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By the Same Author 











(with T. H. huxley) 






(with w. suschitzky) 



M.A., ID.Sc, F.R.S. 




I! V 




Preface page 1 1 

Transhumanism 1 3 

A Re-definition of Progress 1 8 

Man's Plate and Role in Nature 41 

Evolution, Cultural and Biological 6 1 

New Bottles for New Wine: Ideology and 

Scieiitific Knowledge 93 

New Light on Heredity 128 

Life's Improbable Likenesses 137 

Natural History in Iceland 155 

Population and Hum#n Fulfilment 168 

What Do We Know About Love? 213 

The Bearing of Scientific Knowledge on Belief 

in a Fre£ Society 233 

Knowledge, Morality, and Destiny 245 

Evolutionary Humamsm 279 

Index 313 


life's improbable likenesses 
{between pages 144^45) 

Corystes cassh>e/aunus\ Protective resemblance: \ 

Japanese Heike crab j Peppered moth larva, Leaf insects) 

Heteronotus with fake ant] Hornet clearwing moth) 
Reaf and fake ants f Reversed butterfly | 

Hawkm»th (Xanfhopan)\ Garden carpet moth) 
resembling bark J resembling lichen f 

Protective resemblance: ) Mimicry: ] 
Lithops, Eremocharis J Fly orchid, Alligator bug[ 

The Leaf-fish, Monocirrhus polycanthus page 142 

The Nightjar, Nyctibius griseus, brocading 147 


distribution of land animals in the main zoo-geographical 

regions of the world 158 

Breeding distribution of the Loon or Qreat Northern I>ivcr 159 

Breeding distribution of the Little Auk (arctic) and the 

Gannet (north temperate) 161 

Breeding distribution of the Great Skua 162 


World population density 169 

Estimated increase of world population since the dawn_of 
# civilization 1 7 1 

EstfmatecPgrowth of world population since 6000 B.C., 172 


Rate of increase of world population page 173 

Average length of life in North America and Britain, and in 

Asia 175 

Birth, death and natural' increase rates in the United States 

of America, 1916-53 .176 

Distribution of the population of England and Wales by age- 
groups; 1 85 1, 1 901 177 

Stages of the population cycle in different regions 180 

Distribution of world pppulation according to average daily 

supply of calories 1 83 

World distribution of calorics per head 1 84 

Growth of world consumption of energy, 1 860-1920 197 


Annual consumption of energy and annual incomes in North 

America, Blitain and Asia 198 

Birth, death and natural increase rates in Japan, 1920-23 2 °i 

Estimated annual birth and death rates in India, 1881-1923 203 



Many of the essays in this volume were originally composed 
as lectures, while others have appeared in journals. I have to 
thank the publishers of the journals and those who invited 
rne to give the lectures for permission to reproduce them in 
toto or in amplified form. In particular, for A Re-Definition 
of Progress Unesco and Messrs. Allan Wingate; for 
Man's Place and Role in Nature University of Columbia ; 
for Evolution, Cultural and Biological Wenner-Gren 
Foundation for Anthropological Research^ Inc. and University 
of Chicago Press ; for New Bottles for New Wine Royal 
Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland \ for 
Life's Improbable Likenesses Life Magazine; for Natural 
History in Iceland Smithsonian Institution; for Population 
and Human Fulfilment Scientific American; for What 
Do We Know About Love? Look; for The Bearing of 
Scientific Knowledge on Belief in a Free Society 
University of Oregon; for Knowledge, Morality, and 
Destiny William Alanson White Psychiatric Foundation and 
Psychiatry; for Evolutionary Humanism (Dyason Lecture, 
1953) Australian Institute of International Affairs. This last 
lecture has been incorporated in modified form in a revised 
edition of my "Religion Without Revelation", published 
'earlier this year by Messrs. Max Parrish. 

I also have to thank Dr. Cott and Messrs. Methuen and 
C<3. Ltd. fcfr permission to reproduce from hi^ "Adaptive 
Coloration in Animals" the drawings which appear on pp. 
142 and 147, and the illustrations of the Hawkmoth, Garden 
carpet moth and Eremocharis between pp. 144-145; PEP 
{Political and Economic Planning) and Messrs. Allen and 
Unwin Ltd. for the diagrams from "World Population and 
Resources" on pp. 169, 173, 176, 177, 180, 183, 184, 197, 
and 201 ; Scientific American for the diagram on p. 1 72 ; The 
Observer for the diagrams on pp. 175 anti "98; and Mr. 
K. Davis and Princeton University Press for the diagram 
from "The Population of India and Pakistan" whfch appears 
t>n p.203. 




If asked to name the most remarkable developments of the 
present century, I suppose that lyiost people would say the 
automobile and the aeroplane, or the cinema, the radio and 
*TV, or the release of atomic energy, or perhaps penicillin 
and the antibiotics. My answer would be something quite 
different — man's unveiling of the .face and figure of the 
reality of which he forms a part, the first picture of human 
destiny in its true outlines. 

This new vision is based upon the enlargement of know- 
ledge, not only or even mainly (as laymen and I fear also 
many scientists seem to think) in the natural sciences, but 
equally in the social sciences and the humanities. 

During my lifetime, I have seen its gradual emergence, 
piece by piece. There was the discovery that^toms are not 
the ultimate units of matter, leading on to a coherent and 
comprehensive theory, first of matter, and then, through 
radiation studies, quantum theory and atomic physics, of 
matter and energy together; and the discoveries of physio- 
logy and medical science — hormones and vitamins, chemo- 
therapy and antibiotics, the mechanism of nervous action 
and of muscular contraction, and many others — leading to a 
coherent and comprehensive picture of the working of the 
1)ody in health and disease. 

There was the rediscovery of Mendelism, leading on to a 
complete and comprehensive theory, first of heredity and 
then of organic evolution ; and the" discoveries of psychology, 
human and comparative — repression and the Unconscious, 
the measurement of intelligence and temperament, condi- 
tioned reflexes and Gestalt perception, the language of bees, 
the homing of birds and the behaviour of apes — leading 
towards a comprehensive picture of the evolution, the indi- 
vidual development and the working of mind. # 

There was the fliscovery of unsuspected" ancient civiliza- 
tions, like those of Crete and the Indus Valley, and the 
general pushing back of history until it met and fused with 
ftie flood of new knowledge pouring in from prehistory, 
archaeology, .and palaeontology, so leading to a coherent 



view of human development as a whole; and also the rise of 
a more scientific and more universal history with its special- 
ized subdivisions — social and economic history, art history, 
history of scienc^, history of religions, and the rest — leading 
towards a comprehensive picture of civilized man's social 
and cultural evolution. 

There have been the discoveries of exploration— on our 
earth, the attainment of the Poles, the ascent of Everest, the 
revelations of the bathysphere and the aqualung; and be- 
yond it, the astronomers' astonishing exploration of space 
aiid its galaxies — leading to a more complete knowledge of 
our planet, and to a new and awe-inspiring picture of its 
place in the cosmos. 

There have been all the applications of science, leading 
to a new and more comprehensive view of man's possible 
control of nature. But then there was the rediscovery of the 
depths and horrors of human behaviour, as revealed by Nazi 
extermination camps, Communist purges, Japanese treat- 
ment of captives, leading to a sobering realization that man's 
control over nature applies as yet only to external nature : the 
formidable conquest of his own nature remains to be achieved. 

Finally, there has been the amassing of facts about the 
world's resources and their consumption, and about human 
numbers and their rate of increase, leading to another sobering 
realization — that resources are limited, and that population 
must be limited if man is not to turn into a cancer of the planet! 

From these bits and pieces of new knowledge, new realiza- 
tions and new understandings, man is capable of forming a 
new picture of himself, of his place in nature, his relations 
with the rest of the universe, his role in the universal cosmic 
process — in other words, his destiny ; and on that, in turn, 
building new and more adequate beliefs. 

During the post-war decade, I have found myself impelled 
to explore this formidable field, now from one angle, now 
from anothej. The present volume consists mainly of a 
selection from this series of tentative explorations. I am the 
first to acknowledge the gaps and inadequacies which they 
represent* but yet feel some assurance that my efforts have 
led me in the main in the right direction, and indicated somfe 
useful patterns of thought and belief. 



As a result of a thousand milliQn years of evolution, the 
J\ universe is becoming conscious of itself, able to under- 
stand something of its past history and its possible future. 
This cosmic self-awareness is being realized in one tiny 
fragment of the universe — in a fe&r of us human beings. 
Perhaps it has been realized elsewhere too, through the 
evolution oY conscious living creatures on the planets t>f 
other stars. But on this our planet, it has never happened 

Evolution on this planet is a history of the realization of 
ever new possibilities by the stuff of which earth (and the 
rest of the universe) is made — life; strength, speed and 
awareness ; the flight of birds and the social polities of bees 
and ants ; the emergence of mind, long before man was ever 
dreamt of, with the production of colour, beauty, communi- 
cation, maternal care, and the beginnings of intelligence and 
insight. And finally, during the last few ticks of the cosmic 
clock, something wholly new and revolutionary, human 
beings with their capacities for conceptual thought and 
language, for self-conscious awareness and purpose, for 
accumulating and pooling conscious experience. For do not let 
\is forget that the human species is as radically different from 
any of the microscopic single-celled animals that lived a 
thousand million years ago as they were from a /ragmen t of 
stone or metal. 

The new understanding of the universe has come about 
through the new knowledge amassed in the last hundred 
years — by psychologists, biologists, and other scientists, by 
archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians. It has defined 
man's responsibility and destiny — to be an agent for the rest 
of the world in the job of realizing its inherent potentialities 
as fully as possible. 

It is as if man had been suddenly appointed managing 
director of the biggest business of all, the busines # s of evolu- 
tion — appointed without being asked if he wanted it, and 
without proper warning and preparation. What is more, he 



can't refuSe the job. Whether he wants to or not, whether he 
is cbnscious of what he is doing or not, he is in point of fact 
determining the future direction of*evolution on this earth. 
That is his inescapably destiny, and the sooner he realizes 
it and starts believing in it, the better for all concerned. 

What the job really boils down to is this — the fullest, 
realization of man's possibilities, whether by the individual, 
by the community, or by the species in its processional ad- 
venture along the corridors of time. Every man-jack of us 
begins as a mere speck of potentiality, a spherical and 
microscopic egg-cell. During the nine months before birth, 
this automatically unfolds into a truly miraculous range of 
organization: after birth, in addition to continuing auto- 
matic growth and development, the individual begins to 
realize his mental possibilities — by building up a person- 
ality, by developing special talents, by acquiring knowledge 
and skills of various kinds, by playing his part in keeping 
society going. This post-natal process is not an automatic or 
a predetermined one. It may proceed in very different ways 
according to circumstances and according to the individual's 
own efforts. The degree to which capacities are realized can 
be more or less complete. The end-result can be satisfactory 
or very much the reverse: in particular, the personality may 
grievously fail in attaining any real wholeness. One thing is 
certain, that the well-developed, well-integrated personality 
is the highest product of evolution, the fullest realization' 
we know of in the universe. 

The first Shing that the human species has to do to prepare 
itself for the cosmic office to which it finds itself appointed 
is to explore human nature, to find out what are the possi- 
bilities open to it (including, of ctourse, its limitations, 
whether inherent or imposed by the facts of external nature). 
We have pretty well finished the geographical exploration of 
the earth; we have pushed the scientific exploration of 
nature, both tffeless and living, to a point at which its main 
outlines have become clear; but the exploration of human 
nature anc| \ts possibilities has scarcely begun. A vast New 
World of uncharted possibilities awaits its Columbus. 

The great men of the past have given us glimpses pi wh&t 
is possible in the way of personality, of intellectual under- 



standing, of spiritual achievement, of artistic creation. But 
these are scarcely more than Pisgah glimpses. f \^e need to 
explore and map the whole realm of human possibility, as 
the realm of physical geography has boen explored and 
mapped. How to create new possibilities for ordinary living? 
,Whit can be done to bring out the latent capacities of the 
ordinary man and woman for understanding and enjoyment; 
to teach people the techniques of achieving spiritual experi- 
ence (after all, one can acquire the ^technique of dancing or 
tennis, so vtfiy not of mystical ecstasy or spiritual peace?); to 
develop native talent and intelligence in the growing chilci, 
instead of frustrating or distorting them? Already we know 
that painting and thinking, music and mathematics, acting 
and •science can come to mean something very real to quite 
ordinary average boys and girls — provided only that the 
right methods are adopted for bringing out the children's 
possibilities. We are beginning to realize that? even the most 
fortunate people are living far below capacity, and that most 
human beings develop not more than a small fraction of 
their potential mental and spiritual efficiency. The human 
race, in fact, is surrounded by a large area of unrealized 
possibilities, a challenge to thetspirit of exploration. 

The scientific and technical explorations have given the 
Common Man all over the world a notion of physical possi- 
bilities. Thanks t8 science, the under-privileged are coming 
to believe that no one need be underfed or chronically 
diseased, oj deprived of the benefits of its technical and 
practical applications. 

The world's unrest is largely due to this new belief. 
People are determined not to put up with a subnormal 
standard of physical health and material living now that 
science has revealed the possibility of raising it. The unrest 
will produce some unpleasant consequences before it is 
dissipated; but it is in essence a beneficent unrest, a dynamic 
force which will i^ot be stilled until it has. laid the physio- 
logical foundations of human destiny. # 

Once we have explored the possibilities open to.conscious- 
jiess and personality, and the knowledge of them has become 
commctfi property, a new source of unrest will have emerged. 
Peopje will -realize and # believe that if proper measures are 



taken, no' one need be starved of true satisfaction, or con- 
demned to ^sub-standard fulfilment. This process too will 
begin by being unpleasant, and erid by being beneficent. 
It will begin by^destrpying the ideas and the institutions 
that stand in the way of our realizing our possibilities (or 
even deny that the possibilities are there to be realised),, 
and will go op by at least making a start with the actual 
construction of true human destiny. 

Up till now human life has generally been, as Hobbes 
described it, "nasty, brutish and short"; the grpat majority 
of human beings (if th?y have not already died young) have 
been afflicted with misery in one form or another — poverty, 
disease, ill-health, over-work, cruelty, or oppression. They 
have attempted to lighten their misery by means of their 
hopes and their ideals. The trouble has been that the hopes 
have generally, been unjustified, the ideals have generally 
failed to correspond with reality. 

The zestful but scientific exploration of possibilities and 
of the techniques for realizing them will make our hopes 
rational, and will set our ideals within the framework of 
reality, by showing how much of them are indeed realizable. 

Already, we can justifiably hold the belief that these lands 
of possibility exist, and that the piresent limitations and 
miserable frustrations of our existence could be in large 
measure surmounted. We are already justified in the con- 
viction that human life as we know it in history is a wretched 
makeshift, rooted in ignorance; and that it could be tran- 
scended by a state of existence based on the illumination of 
knowledge and comprehension, just as our modern control 
of physical nature based on science transcends the tentative 
fumblings of our ancestors, that wertf rooted in superstition 
and professional secrecy. ( 

To do this, we must study the possibilities of creating a 
more favourable social environment, as we have already done 
in large measure with our physical environment. We shall 
start from new premisses. For instance, that beauty (some- 
thing to enjoy and something to be proud of) is indispensable, 
and there/ore that ugly or depressing towns are immoral; 
that quality of people, not mere quantity, is what we mu$t 
aim at, and therefore that a concerted policy is required to 


prevent the present flood of population-increase frfim wreck- 
ing all our hopes for a better world; that true understanding 
and enjoyment are ends*in themselves, as well as tools for or 
relaxations from a job, and that thgrefore^we must explore 
and make fully available the techniques of education and 
self-education; that the most ultimate satisfaction comes 
from a depth and wholeness of the inner life^ and therefore 
that we muSt explore and make fully available the techniques 
of spiritual development; above toll, that there are two 
complementary parts of our cosmic duty — one to ourselves, 
to be fulfilled in the realization jind enjoyment of otir 
capacities, the other to others, to be fulfilled in service to the 
community and in promoting the welfare of the generations 
to cfcme and the advancement of our species as a whole. 

The human species can, if it wishes, transcend itself — 
not just sporadically, an individual here yi one way, an 
individual there in another way, but in ks entirety, as 
humanity. We need a name for this new belief. Perhaps 
transhumanism will serve: man remaining man, but trans- 
cending himself, by realizing new possibilities of and for 
his human nature. 

"I believe in transhumanisgi" : once there are enough 
people who can truly 5ay that, the human species will be on 
the threshold of a new kind of existence, as different from 
ours as ours is from that of Pekin man. It will at last be 
consciously fulfilling its real destiny. 




Mythology fills a necessary place in the histofy ofi 
human ideas. It arises when man first demands some 
explanation of the strange surroundings in which he finds 
himself, some comprehensible guidance in the frightening 
chaos. The human mind has not at this stage been able to 
penetrate beyond the* surface of things, to discover the 
deeper relations of events, or to illuminate the dark con- 
fusion with the light of science. Myth is thus a rationaliza- 
tion ; it is an ad hoc support framed by our intellect to sustain 
our existence, and the formation of myths is bpund to 
continue in any domain so long as our desire to know and to 
understand is confronted and overtopped by our ignorance. 

In later stages, however, mythology is inevitably modified 
by new knowledge and experience, and in the long run 
becomes supplanted by science. Science may not be able to 
give ultimate explanations, but at least it can, as time passes 
and knowledge accumulates,* provide rational understanding. 
The myth is thus eventually replaced by the scientific de- 
scription, the comprehensible account of the facts of nature. 
The making of myths has thus not been* confined to early, 
stages in the development of man's ideas. Some myths, like 
that of Nordic racialism, or, as we shall shortly, see, of pro- 
gress, are cfiiite recent. Although some myths are no more 
than primitive fairy-tales, others are so profound in their 
intuition that they can continue to serve a valuable function 
long after their literal truth has been discarded. Thus in the 
myth of the Fall of Man, Reinhold Niebuhr x t rightly finds 
profundities and subtleties which are still capable of showing 
up the inadequacy of some of to-day's cruder so-called 
scientific approaches. 

Yet eveij if myths can be stretched to include new 
scientific knowledge, as the myth of the Fall can be stretched 

1 Niebuhr, R., An Interpretation of Christian Ethics, S.C.M. Press,* 
London, 1936. 



to include the facts of Freudian psychology, even if they 
may retain a value long after their original crude rationaliza- 
tion has ceased to have* a meaning, there yet comes a time 
when it is desirable to reject and demolish them, to start 
building a wholly new scaffolding for the human mind, 
on the frank basis of naturalistic description and scientific 

This tinffe of rejection is approaching for the mythology 
of man's destiny. There are many different sectors of myth- 
ology — myths of creation, those cosmic Just So Stories; 
myths of magic and power, peopling this world with spirits 
or some other Olympian world with the high gods of poly- 
theism; myths of death and the hereafter; myths of nature, 
deaHng with sun and stars, with thunder and eclipse, with 
the seasons and the fertility of crops; myths of sex and repro- 
duction ; myths of good and evil. But the njyths of human 
destiny, though often intertwined with other.subjects, have 
always taken a large place. By myths of human destiny, I 
mean all those fabulations which purport to give man, both 
as individual and as race or species, an explanatory picture 
of his life in relation to its setting, to rationalize the process 
of change we see everywhere bgth in and around us, and to 
indicate (sometimes optimistically, sometimes the reverse, 
but at least comprehensibly) the relation between human 
desire and purpose on the one hand and cosmic chaos and 
indifference on the other. 

One such myth is that of metempsychosis in all its varied 
forms; it becomes most expressly a myth of dtstiny when 
linked with the doctrine of Karma. Another is that of the 
Golden Age, an ideal state from which man has fallen, 
whether through his *own fault or not. Its most modern 
embodiment, I suppose, was Rousseau's idea of the noble 
savage, though a less radical version is found in the glorifica- 
tion of ancient Greece as the apogee of human achievement. 
All ideas of belonging to a Chosen People Mfhich one day 
shall accomplish jfreat things for or in the world are myths 
of this general type. So, of course, are all the fragments of 
classical mythology dealing with that problem of At6 or 
iDoom yhich so concerned the Greeks. At almost every level 
of culture wp could discover myths of this general nature. 

1 9 


One of the myths of human destiny is that of progress. 
Prdfessor Bury in an interesting book 1 has shown how recent 
has been the growth of this idea.* Apart from temporary 
flickers, it dates Jback no earlier than the Reformation. Its 
rise was undoubtedly connected with that of modern science, 
which, following on the great explorations, revealed not # 
only new realms of possible knowledge, but new possibilities 
of control over culture. 

The myth of progress has taken two main forms, which 
have sometimes remained separate, sometimes been inter- 
twined. One is the myth of millenary progress, the other of 
its inevitability. Millenary progress is the myth of the Golden 
Age in reverse. It asserts that if only man gets rid of some 
old obstacle or creates some well-defined and realizable«new 
social mechanism, humanity will leap forward to a Utopian 
state of general well-being and happiness. The eighteenth- 
century apostles of revolution believed that what was needed 
was the abolition either of kings or of priests (or preferably 
of both). Some of the more zealous apostles of the nineteenth- 
century industrial revolution believed that what was needed 
was to make the applications of nineteenth-century science 
available to everybody, and tp teach everybody the three R's : 
if these conditions could be fulfilled, then everything — to 
put it rather crudely — would be All Right. Inevitable pro- 
gress, on the other hand, is an optimistic reversal of the grim 
Greek myth of At£, or of the pessimistic Christian doctrine* 
of predestination. It asserts that, the nature of the world and 
of man beiijg what it is, human progress is inevitable, and 
more particularly that it will inevitably be both smooth and 
rapid, now that man has become scientific. 

In our Western world the myth •of progress has now 
fallen on evil days. It was attacked in general terms by Bury 
in his previously-cited book, and by many writers since then 
on the more specific grounds that the idea of progress cannot 
be reconciled jvith the retrogressions of Fascism and Nazism 
and the horrors of the recent war. Amoflg its most recent 
assailants is* my brother Aldous. 2 He refers, for instance, to 

1 Bury, J. B., The Idea of Progress, Macmillan, London, 1920. % 

2 Huxley, Aldou9, The Perennial Philosophy, Harper, New YfflJh JCiA g 
Chatto & Windus, London, 1946. 



"the apocalyptic religion of Inevitable Progress [whose] 
creed is that the Kingdom of Heaven is outside you and in 
the future" and wants* to "bully nature into" subserving 
ill-considered temporal ends, at variance ^ith the final end 
of men" (which he describes as "unitive knowledge of the 
Divine Ground of being"). Elsewhere he says that "the 
religion of Inevitable Progress ... is, in the last analysis, the 
hope and faith (in the teeth of all human experience) that one 
can get something for nothing". 

Thus according to the more sweeping of these critics, the 
idea of progress is not only a myth, but a bad myth. A goad 
myth is one which, while frankly and inevitably unscientific, 
yet, with the aid of intuition and everyday experience and 
common sense, still manages to embody truth. But a bad myth 
is merely erroneous, and should be discarded as dangerous. 

Mearfwhile, however, the patient labours ^of the students 
of evolution, whether stellar evolution, biological evolution, 
or social evolution, have revealed that progress is not myth 
but science, not an erroneous wish-fulfilment, but a fact. 
On the other hand, progress as a scientific doctrine reveals 
itself as very different from progress as a mythical dogma. 

The scientific doctrine of progress is destined to replace 
not only the myth of progress, out all other myths of human 
earthly destiny. It will inevitably become one of the corner- 
stones of man's theology, or whatever may be the future 
substitute for theology, and the most important external 
support for human ethics. There has not yet been time to 
work it out'in detail; indeed, a number of fact* relevant to 
its elaboration still await discovery. But its broad lines are 
now clear. It will be my purpose here to set forth some of its 
consequences and implications, with special reference to the 
intellectual and moral urgencies of the world at this moment 
of history. For it is all too clear that humanity's present 
situation, as seen in evolutionary perspective, is a crucial one, 
balanced upon one of the recurrent knife-edg^s of change. 

I will confine Ayself to quoting a brief summary of our 
present position of evolutionary theory on fhe subject. 
Evolution in the broad sense denotes all the historical pro- 
fcesses of change and development at work in the universe: 
in fact/it is the universe, historically regarded. It is divisible 



into three very different sectors — the inorganic or lifeless, 
thenorganfc or biological, and the psychosocial or human. 
The inorganic sector is by far the greatest in extent. On the 
other hand, the ;nethods by which it changes are almost 
entirely those of mere physical interaction, and the highest 
rate of evolution so slow as to be almost beyond our compre- 
hension, the "life" of a star being of the appalling order of 4 
magnitude of I o 12 years — a British as against a mere American 

The biological sector is very much more limited in extent; 
however, with the emergence of the two basic properties of 
living matter — self-reproduction and variation (mutation) — 
a new and much more potent method of change became 
available to life, in the shape of natural selection. As a result 
the possible rate of evolution was enormously speeded up. 
Thus the entire evolution of life, from its pre-cellulaV origins 
to man, has taken little more than 2x io 9 years, and quite 
large changes, such as the evolution of the fully specialized 
horses from their small and generalized ancestors, or that 
of the first true birds from reptiles, have been achieved in 
periods which are nearer io 7 than io 8 years. 

Finally there is the human sector. This is still further 
restricted in extent, being confined to the single species, 
Homo sapiens. But once more a new and more efficient 
method of change is available. It becomes, available through 
man's distinctively human properties of speech and con-' 
ceptual thought. Objectively speaking, the new method 
consists of #> cumulative tradition, forming the basis 'of 
that social heredity by means of which human societies and 
cultures maintain themselves and develop. But it also has a 
subjective aspect. Cumulative tradition, like all other dis- 
tinctively human activities, is largely based on conscious 
processes, on knowledge and purpose, on conscious feel- 
ing and conscious choice. Thus the struggle for existence 
that underlies natural selection is increasingly replaced 
by a struggle between ideas and values in the shared 
consciousness of social beings, resulting in what we may call 
conscious 6r psychosocial selection. 

Through these new agencies, the possible rate of evolu- 
tion was again enormously speeded up. What is more, there 



has so far been a steady acceleration of the new rate* Whereas 
in the Lower Palaeolithic major cultural change required 
something of the order 06 1 o 6 years, by the late Upper Palaeo- 
lithic the period was nearer io 4 years, and in historic times 
came down to the century or io 2 yeats. Ancl during the last 
hunched years each decade has seen at least one major 
Change: if we are to choose ten such, let us select photo- 
graphy, the .theory of evolution, the electro-m&gnetic theory 
with its applications in the shape of f lectric light and power, 
the germ theory of disease, the cinema, radio-activity and 
the new theories of matter and energy, wireless and tele- 
vision, the internal-combustion engirfe, chemical synthetics, 
and atomic fission. To-day, indeed, even the most moment- 
ous .changes, such as the discovery and first practical 
application of atomic fission, may take only half a decade, 
and there is as yet no sign of the rate of acceleration slowing 

Evolution in the human sector consists mainly of changes 
in the form of society, in tools and machines, in ideas, in new 
ways of utilizing the old innate potentialities, instead of in 
the nature of those potentialities, as in the biological sector. 
Man's inherited mental powers cannot have changed ap- 
preciably since the time of the 'Aurignacian cave-dwellers ; 
what have changed are the ways in which those powers are 
used, and the socia] and ideological frameworks which condi- 
tion their use. This is not to say that what has happened to 
man since the Aurignacian period or since the time of ancient 
• Greece is not evolution ; it is a very astonishing bjt of evolu- 
tion. Nor does it mean that mah's innate mental powers 
could not be improved: they certainly were improved (pre- 
sumably by natural selection) in the earliest stages of his 
career, from Pekin man through the Neanderthalers to our 
own species, and they certainly could be improved further 
by deliberate eugenic measures. Meanwhile, however, it is 
in social organization, in machines, and in ideas that human 
evolution is mostly made manifest. 

These three sectors have succeeded each othfer in time. 
Perhaps the next fact that strikes one concerning the process 
as a whole is that the physical basis and the organization of 
what ev&lves becomes more complex with time, not only in 



the passage from one sector to the next, but also within each 
secrtor. Most of the inorganic sector is composed of atoms or 
of the still Ampler sub-atomic unitp, though here and there 
it attains the next higher level, of molecules. Further, in a 
few rare situations it must have reached the further stage of 
organic macro-molecules, which can comprise a much larger 
number and a much more complex arrangement of atoms/ 
It was from among such giant organic molecules that the living 
or self-reproducing molecules of the biological sector were 
later evolved. These are] more elaborate still, consisting of 
many hundreds or perhaps thousands of atoms. In turn, their 
vast but still sub-microscopic complexity provided the basis 
for an even greater visible elaboration. The complexity of 
the bodily organisation of a bird or a mammal is almost in- 
conceivable to anyone who has not systematically studied it. 
And this visible complexity has increased with time during 
biological evolution. A bird or a mammal is more complex 
than a fish, a fish more complex than a worm, a worm than 
a polyp, a polyp than an amoeba, an amoeba than a virus. 
Finally, in the human sector, a new complexity is super- 
imposed on the old, in the shape of man's tools and machines, 
idea-systems, and social organizations. And this, too, in- 
creases with time. The elaboration of a modern state, or of a 
machine-tool factory in it, is almost infinitely greater than 
that of a primitive tribe or the wooden and stone implements 
available to its* inhabitants. 1 
But it is not only complexity of organisation which 
increases ^yith time. In the biological sector, evolution -has 
led to greater control over the environment, to greater 
independence of its changes and chances, and to a higher 
degree of individuation. It has also led to an increase of 
mental powers — greater capacities for acquiring and organ- 
izing knowledge, for experiencing emotion, aiid for exerting 
purpose. This trend towards fuller knowledge, richer emo- 
tion, and more embracing purpose is continued in the human 
sector, though by different methods and *t a much increased 
rate. But tt> it is superadded another trend — an increase in 
the capacity to appreciate values, to appreciate experiences 
that are of value in their own right and for their own sake, 
to build on knowledge, to work through purpose, and' to 



inject ethical values into the process of social evolution itself. 
The ethical values may be limited and primitive, such as 
unquestioning loyalty te a tribe, or high and universal, like 
those which Jesus introduced into the affairs of the world; 
the point is that only in the human sector do they become a 
part of the mechanism of change and evolution. 

These broad trends are not universal. In the biological 
sector, stability frequently replaces directional change. Even 
when broad trends exist, they needfiot be desirable from the 
long-term point of view. Thus most evolutionary trends, like 
those seen in the horse or elephant stock, are only specialisa- 
tions. After tens of millions of years of one-sided improve- 
ment for a particular way of life, they lead inevitably to an 
evolutionary dead end, after which no further major change 
is possible. However, a few trends do occur which promote 
an all-r<Jund improvement of organization, such as the evolu- 
tion of early mammals from reptiles, or e^rly man from 
mammals. These do not close the door on further major 
change, as was demonstrated by the large-scale evolution of 
mammals in the Tertiary, or of man's societies since the Ice 
Age; they are thus the only changes which are, from the 
longest-range point of view, desirable and progressive. 

Thus, whatever may have been the origin of the universe 
and whatever its final fate, it has in fact shown a certain 
trend which may properly be called progress. This is discern- 
1 ible within the few hundred million years of its history about 
which we can draw reasonable conclusions, and can be extra- 
pfilated with a high degree of probability into the few thou- 
sand million years of the future* about which we can make 
reasonable prophecies. This trend is measurable most clearly 
by the upper level attained by certain attributes of the exist- 
ing world-stuff, rather than by their average level. These 
attributes vafy according to the sector of existence which is 
being considered. In the inorganic sector the only criterion 
is complexity of organization. In the organic ghase of evolu- 
tion complexity Continues to increase, But other criteria 
become more important — notably the capacity to control 
other parts of the universe, and to become more independent 
of changes in the environment, while in its later stages the 
dominant criterion shifts to increased capacity for know- 



ledge, emotion and purpose, notably the capacity for profit- 
ing* by experience. All these criteria are still involved in 
progress within the psychosocial phase, but new criteria are 
superadded — notgtbly increased understanding and attain- 
ment of intrinsic values. As my grandfather said in the 
Prologomena to his Romanes Lecture in 1893, * n human 
life the struggle for existence has been in large measure 
replaced by the struggle for enjoyment. To which we may 
add that, if we take thft long view, from the palaeolithic 
period to the neotechnic culture of to-day, there has been a 
rite in the level or value of the enjoyments for which we 
strive, as well as an increase in the variety and quality ol 
enjoyments which are possible. 

Although we have no right to regard this trend as embody- 
ing a cosmic purpose or a Divine intention, we can properly 
say that it constitutes a desirable direction of evolAtion, as 
contrasted with those numerous other trends which are less 
desirable or undesirable — trends leading to cultural de- 
generation or extinction, to one-sided specialization or to 

Some maintain that we should not even use the word 
desirable — that it is mere guestion-begging or anthropo- 
morphic self-satisfaction to say that • any existing trend is 
better than any other. That I deny. We can judge by results. 
Life itself is, in a self-evident way, somehow higher than any 
inorganic system er structure. Goethe's Faust or the Fifth 
Symphony of Beethoven assuredly have higher value than 
any creative^ achievement of savage man, let alofte than afty 
animal activity; and the knowledge and comprehension 
arising from the mathematical, scientific and humanistic 
discoveries of the last three centuries* are clearly of greater 
value than those available to Aristotle, not to speak of those 
possible to primitive man or the highest of apes. A world 
with antelopes and song-birds and butterflies in it is in some 
real sense better — more beautiful, more wonderful, more 
interesting — than one with only worms* and polyps and 
protozoa, afld that again is somehow better than a lifeless 
world. The world after human civilizations had arisen in it 
was higher, more significant, more worth-while, than when 
only barbarous. 


It is true that the range of undesirable possibilities in- 
creases at the same time, that in the human sector # at leastany 
rise implies the possibility of a deeper fall and greater good 
involves the possibility of greater evil. Bjxt this in no way 
impugns the positive trend I have* outlined. The level of 
desifable qualities and attributes attained by the existing 
world does rise; that does not cease to be a fact because of 
the existence of any other facts, even of antagonistic ones. 

I want now to deal with the question of the inevitability 
of progress. In biological evolution progress is in one sense 
inevitable, In another sense not. It is inevitable in the seftse 
that, given the struggle for existence* and natural selection in 
our world or any world similar to ours during the last thou- 
sand million years, it is apparently unavoidable that true 
progress should occur in some of the lines of life. But it is 
not universally inevitable: the great majority of biological 
stocks cither show no progress, the reverse of progress, or a 
rogress which is only partial and limited. It is conditioned 
y accidents; if the identical stock which showed progressive 
evolution on a continent could have been transplanted to a 
small oceanic island with different competitors, it would 
assuredly not have progressed. If the world had not had 
the accident of a great climatic catastrophe befall it at the 
close of the Cretaceous, the ancestral mammals would not 
have supplanted the reptiles so completely nor embarked 
■ upon such rapid new advance. And it will always remain 
subject to accidents. If some virus or bacterium were to arise 
which exterminated the human species, that ^puld almost 
certainly be the end of any hopes'of major progress on earth. 
If the temperature of the earth were to fall sufficiently, pro- 
gress would undoubtedly stop and would eventually be 
totally reversed. 

In the hufhan sector for some considerable evolutionary 
future, progress is probably inevitable, in the sense that the 
upper level of desirable qualities in point of fact is bound to 
rise. But it is not inevitable in the sense* that it must be 
steady; on the contrary, there may be seriou^ regressions 
interrupting the general rise of level, as we know from his- 
tory and from all-too-personal experience. Nor is it inevitable 
ill the Sense that it must be universal. This or that culture, 



this or that trend, may ignominiously peter out or may crash 
in war or revolution . Nor would it be inevitable if dysgenic 
reproduction reduced the average level of innate intellectual 
and moral qualities beyond a certain point. But given the 
present state of the human race, its thirst for knowledge and 
betterment, and the extent of its accumulated traditicpi, I 
regard it as certain that some degree of progress will for 
some time inevitably continue to occur. 

The objection is sometimes made that if progress is in- 
evitable we need not worry or exert ourselves ; it will happen 
air/how, without our painful efforts. Or are we tdld that any 
theory of inevitable progress, however limited, is mere fatal- 
ism, and as such incapable of providing either guidance or 
comfort. These, however, are fictitious difficulties. They 
arise out of a false separation between our material and 
mental activities. If we take the monistic or unitary'natural- 
istic view demanded by evolutionary logic, matter and mind 
cease to appear as separate entities; they are seen as two 
necessary attributes or aspects of the single universal world- 
stuff. In the inorganic sector the mental aspect is wholly 
latent, negligibly developed. But in the higher range of 
the biological sector certain configurations of the world-stuff 
have definite mental attributes. Regarded objectively, these 
configurations are the special arrangements of nervous tissue 
we call brains ; physiologically they are organs for co-ordin- 
ating and directing action on the basis of sense-data and 
memory; but subjectively, certain of their activities are appre- 
hended as jnental or psychological — perception, thought, 
emotion, and will. 

Freedom, said Spinoza, is the knowledge of necessity. 
However epigrammatic, this dictum does constitute a resolu- 
tion, albeit in highly condensed form, of the problem of free 
will. The biologist would state the position rathfer differently. 
He would say that the human brain provides a mechanism, 
wholly novel in evolution, whereby alternatives can be con- 
fronted. The alternatives may be alternatives of truth, or of 
action, or of*emotional satisfaction. That is unessential; what 
is essential is that they are truly alternatives, and that the 
fact of their confrontation makes it necessary to choose* 
between them, to select one rather than another. Further, 



they are present together within the unity of consciousness ; 
it is this simultaneous presence in consciousness Vhich con- 
stitutes their confrontation. The choice, too, is a fact; and 
like the confrontation, has its special accompaniments* in 
consciousness, its necessary subjective aspects. When two 
opposing impulses are confronted, we have a sense of con- 
flict and struggle; when the confrontation is between two 
closely balanced alternatives, a sense of indecision. Similarly 
the act of choice is accompanied bjj a sense of effort when a 
strong impulse has to be suppressed; by a sense of release 
when a loWer impulse is transcended and flooded out by a 
higher; sometimes by a sense of rational decision ; by a sense 
of powerful and deliberate will; or by will which is effortless 
because accompanied by a sense of certitude and inevit- 

Man is unique in being endowed with such a mechanism 
for confronting, weighing, and choosing between alterna- 
tives in the light of reason and past experience. To this 
situation, logical arguments about free will versus determin- 
ism are irrelevant. The fact is that we are able to select 
between alternate cause of action, and that this selection 
involves the activity known as will. Tt involves an act of will 
at the moment, and also the results of past acts of will. If we 
had set ourselves to amass a little more knowledge, if we had 
disciplined our moral activities better, or if we had kept our 
bodies healthier, the decision we have to take to-day might 
be different. As Schopenhauer wrote, "A man can do what 
he*will, but # not will as he will." However, he c#n train his 
will, so that it becomes a more efficient agency of choice and 

Progress at the present juncture may be inevitable, in the 
sense of being in the nature of things. But it is also in the 
nature of thirf^s that progress will not come about without 
human choice, human effort, and human purpose. With the 
coming of man, evolution itself comes to have a subjective 
as well as an objective component. Man bfecomes a micro- 
cosm in which the objective trends of the macroflbsm can be 
mirrored and from whose subjective depths purpose can 
flow out to influence the trends of the macrocosm and, 
within gradually expanding limits, subject them to its will. 



Before 'coming to the possibilities of progress to-day, I 
muct deal 'with some of the generalities of progress in the 
human sector, since this is the subject or numerous miscon- 
ceptions. In the fijrst place, the method of human evolution in 
general, including that' by which progress can be effected, 
is different from that found in the biological sector. This I 
have already mentioned, but it cannot be too strongly re- 
iterated. Natural selection, as operative in biological evolu- 
tion, depending on the r differential survival of types with 
different genetical endowment, has ceased to be of major 
importance. It still operates, but in a quite subsidiary way, 
and it is no longer the* prime agency of change. The prime 
method of change is now change in cultural tradition. Much 
of the struggle and consequent selection is between tradi- 
tions and ideas, or between nations, classes, or other groups 
embodying those traditions and ideas. The inter-irtdividual 
struggle tends to become more a struggle for the means of 
enjoyment than for the means of survival or of reproduction. 
And finally, much of the struggle can be displaced from the 
objective to the subjective world, there to involve the success 
or failure of ideas or desires, instead of the life or death of 
organisms or gametes. 

Man could avail himself of a method of genetic change, if 
he were deliberately to practise eugenics. This would, how- 
ever, no longer be a form of natural selection but of artificial 
selection, such as he has already practised on domestic 1 
animals and plants, involving a conscious aim and a deliber- 
ate control p of the mechanisms of heredity. It cotild therefore 
operate much more rapidly and much less wastefully than 
natural selection. 

As to the course pursued by evolution, the results of the 
biologists' elaborate exploration of the biological sector do 
throw some light on the problem in the humaA sector. In the 
first place, changes in the environment are important con- 
tributory causes of evolution. Without the desiccation of the 
mid-tertiary ftiete would not have been the rise of the Grass 
family to b6tanical dominance over large areas of the world's 
surface, or the consequent rise of the grazing herbivores 
such as horses and sheep, oxen and antelopes. 

When we extend this idea of environment to cover the 



biological as well as the inorganic environment^ environ- 
mental change becomes still more important as a factor in 
evolution. The most obvious example is the colonization of 
the land by green plants. Since all higher animals are directly 
or ultimately dependent on plants, tile establishment of this 
greejj environment was an indispensable prerequisite to 
•colonization of the land by animals. A still more basic fact 
is the general raising of the level of efficiency^and competi- 
tion in the entire biological environment and the filling of 
more and more niches by new adaptations. This it is which 
makes evohition both inevitable and unique. The no»- 
biologist sometimes asks why, if ape? once gave rise to man, 
existing apes do not again evolve into a human type. The 
answer is simple. Even if they had remained just as they 
were before the evolution of man (instead of, as is probable, 
becoming more specialized for an arboreal life), they could 
not evolve in face of the competition from the more advanced 
form to which their ancestral relatives once gave rise. There 
is no longer an empty niche waiting to be filled by the evolu- 
tion of a human creature; any tentatives in this direction 
would bring the potential new men not into a vacant 
promised land but straight up against the ruthless competi- 
tion of the actual men already iri existence. 

We must next mention specialization and its conse- 
quences. Specialization — in other words one-sided adapta- 
tion to a particular mode of life — eventually leads to an 
evolutionary dead end. After this point is reached no more 
major changes are possible, for reasons concerned with 
mutation and selection into which we need not # here enter. 
The specialized line or group may then continue to flourish, 
apparently indefinitely, but with its variation restricted 
within comparatively narrow limits; as has nappened with 
the birds, for instance, during the past twenty or more 
million years, or with the snakes. Alternatively, it may go 
under in competition with some new rival line or as a result 
of some climatic ohange, and either be totallylextinguished, 
as were the ichthyosaurs and the dinosaurs at* the end of 
the Cretaceous, or the sabre-toothed cats and the giant 
sloths during the Ice Age, or else reduced to insignificance, 
*like the* lung-fish in competition with more modern fish on 



the one side and amphibians on the other, or (alas!) the 
larger mammals of to-day as a result of the spread of 
civilized mkn. 

There is another type of bar to evolutionary advance, 
resulting from the inexorable limitations of some form of 
physiological mechanism. Thus the employment by Arthro- 
pods of a hard dead external skeleton involves periodic 
moulting, and this has the further result of setting an upper 
limit to size. Even the largest arthropods, to be found among 
the marine Crustacea, never weigh more than a few score of 
pounds. Among insects, the adoption of the method of 
breathing by air-tubej or tracheae has set a much lower 
limit to their size — which in turn has limited the size of 
their brains and the evolution of any degree of pjastic 
intelligence. As a result of this limitation, even those highest 
of all insects, the ants, have shown no progressive ohange for 
nearly fifty million years, and the entire group of insects 
would seem to be barred from further major progress. 

It is natural to ask whether similar bars to progress, due 
to the limitations of some important social mechanism, also 
operate in the human sector of evolution. The answer would 
appear to be yes, though not very frequently. It may prove 
that the Chinese method of writing, by ideographic symbols, 
is an example of this, and that for Chinese civilization to 
enjoy its full potentialities of progress it will be necessary to 
change to an alphabetic method. The non-metric systems oi 
measurement to which the British Commonwealth and the 
United States still cling, if not bars to progress, are at Uast 
brakes updfri it. 

In any event, since these limitations are not inherent in 
the genetic constitution, but only iij some aspect of social 
tradition, they can be removed without the extinction or 
collapse of the entire cultural group. They can be removed ; 
but in fairness let us add that the difficulties in the way of 
their removal, difficulties which are by no means all the 
result of selfish ^vested interest, may be very great, as with 
the case ofewitching over advanced industrial nations from 
a non-metric to a metric system. 

The next question is whether the opposition, so crucial ia 
the biological sector, between specialization and progress, . 



between advance which is one-sided and limited and*advance 
which is all-round and unlimited, is of importapce also tn 
human evolution. The afcswer is yes; but the opposition 
presents itself in a very different w#y. The evolution of 
Homo sapiens has so far been mainly an evolution of 
cultures and traditions, and cultures can interpenetrate and 
interact. In the past, when cultural isolation was much 
greater, a tradition may perhaps have become so specialized 
as to become incapable of vital interaction and fusion with 
other traditions; and in modern times, with the increased 
possibilities of state propaganda anc^ state control, ther£ 
have been examples, such as Nazism, of the building up of a 
tradition incompatible with any other type. But in general 
different cultures do interpenetrate and interact, and if there 
is extinction or a fall from dominance, it, for the most part, 
comes not as the result of force (here again Nazism is an 
exception) but as the result of the gradual abandonment of 
certain ideas in favour of others which are in the ascendant. 

An obvious example of interpenetration is the influence 
of ancient Greek on Arabic thought, followed by that of 
Arabic thought on Western mathematics, medicine and 
science; on a smaller scale we have phenomena like the 
blending of Christian and West African (Yoruba) practices 
in such places as Cuba. As examples of a fall from dominance 
we may take the abandonment in civilized countries of the 
belief in magic and witchcraft in favour of more scientific or 
•more spiritual^ conceptions, or the replacement of creationist 
by evolutionary ideas during the l^st hundred years. 

What we really need to know, however, is whether 
specialization or one-sidedness in cultural tradition is in the 
long run as undesirable* or at any rate as preclusive of per- 
manent progress, as it certainly is in biological evolution. It 
is difficult to give a clear-cut answer, for a culture or a tradi- 
tion is not a sharply defined entity like a genetic constitu- 
tion, but fluid and plastic; and also, as we Jia^jp just seen, 
capable of interacting and uniting with other cultures and 
traditions in a way impossible to all biological entities save 
those few plant types capable of large-scale hybridization. 
Wh^t we.can say, however, is that exaggeratedly one-sided 
emphasis in culture or tradition — in other words cultural 


specialization — is inimical, either at the time or later, to the 
fullest degree of progress. It needs to be corrected, and the 
necessary correction must sometimes be violent. The re- 
current over-preoccupation of the Christian tradition with 
sin ; the over-emphasis of the Middle Ages on symbol and 
analogy; the over-emphasis of Fascism on the importance of 
the State; the Nazi transference of national pride, in any 
event exaggerated, to the falsity of racialism; the over- 
emphasis on rank, prestige or ritual that afflicts so many 
barbaric cultures; over-emphasis on the differences in way 
of life between classes, especially when crystallized within a 
rigid caste system; over-emphasis on the authority of the 
ruler, as embodied in such traditions as the Divine Right of 
Kings — these are a few examples. * 

Divine Right and similar over-emphases needed revolu- 
tions for their destruction ; Fascism and Nazism demanded a 
world war. Over-preoccupation with sin has led to violent 
attacks on all forms of enjoyment, which in their turn have 
provoked counter-reactions that swing too far in the opposite 
direction; over-emphasis on theological authority has put 
needless shackles on the advance of material knowledge. 

During the past hundred years there has been in the 
Western world an over-emphasis on the material side of 
things — on quantity as against quality, on novelty for its 
own sake, on control pver the forces of nature as against 
control over our own nature, on variety and multiplicity as 
against unity, on matter as against mind, on technology as* 
against a-t (including the art of life), on means as against 
ends. This trend is taking us off the main line of possible 
progress, and must be corrected soon unless it is to bring 
about a reaction of over-compensation, so violent as to 
deviate man's advance towards the opposite side of its true 

It will perhaps be objected that it is only by a succession 
of such actions and reactions that man advances, and that 
human progress must therefore pursue a perpetual zigzag, 
never on its true course (though generally in the same general 
direction), and punctuated by wasteful explosions of con- 
flict, during which there may actually be a drift jway from 
progress. Or alternatively that, whenever the oppositions of 


thesis and antithesis, which await reconciliation in a dial- 
ectical synthesis, are really important, the "reconciliation"-^ 
unlikely to be accomplished without violence. In either 
case, major advance would always require ^cute revolution, 
instead of gradual and peaceful evolution. 

H^re biology may shed a suggestive light. In biological 
evolution both acute and gradual change occur, and both 
may contribute to progress. The sudden extihction at the 
close of the Secondary Era (sudden yi the geological sense) 
of some three-quarters of the main lines of reptilian evolu- 
tion, togethe'r with the relegation to unimportance of all the 
remainder save the one branch of lizards and snakes — this, 
with the almost explosive evolution of the mammals which 
followed upon it, was an acute process, a revolutionary event. 
But the slow transformation, during perhaps fifty million 
years of the Secondary Era, of one small and insignificant 
reptilian line into a primitive mammal, and thg subsequent 
slow transformation during another fifty million of the 
Tertiary of one mammalian line into ancestral man — those 
were processes of extreme gradualism, to be followed by the 
acute revolutionary processes of extinction or reduction 
and explosive spread, and it may well be that this co-opera- 
tion between the violent and the gradual is inevitable in the 
biological sector. 

If so, it is because biological lines or trends of evolution 
fre discrete, incapable of interpretation and fusion. In the 
, human sector, however, as we have seen, what evolve are not 
•gerife-completes but cultural traditions, and car^ therefore 
interpenetrate. On the other hand,' they do not always do so 
completely, or at least sufficiently to form a single viable 
tradition out of the fusion of two hostile or opposing ones. 
When there is this failure of fusion, it seems that any conflict 
can only be rdbolved acutely — by violence, war, or revolu- 
tion. But when interpenetration is sufficient to allow fusion, 
the peaceful processes of gradualism can operate to produce 

Here is another advantage of the method of hufnan evolu- 
tion. The reconciliation of opposites can take place within 
the plastic unity of tradition, without the wastefulness of 
acute violence and extinction. This is the counterpart of the 



corresponding advantage in the sphere of selection — the 
replacement of the wasteful methods of natural selection, 
with its inevitable differential mortality, by a selection of 
techniques and ideas. r 

We can now consider our present situation. In evolution 
as a whole, it is obvious that there are two major critical 
points — the origin of self-reproducing matter or life, and the 
origin of self-reproducing culture or man. But there are also 
minor or secondary critical points, decisive not so much 
because of their immediate effects as for the new possibilities 
frhich they open up. The secondary critical point in inor- 
ganic evolution was the formation of giant carbon-containing 
molecules, rightly termed "organic" since without them 
living organisms would have been impossible. The second- 
ary critical point in biological evolution was the origin of 
learning — the formation of mechanisms for profiting by 
experience. This was of importance partly because without 
it the evolution of man would have been impossible; but 
partly also because it is at the base of all the most successful 
and developed products of biological evolution, from bee 
and ant to mammal and bird* The secondary critical point 
in human evolution will be marked by the union of all 
separate traditions in a single common pool, the orchestra- 
tion of human diversity from competitive discord to har- 
monious symphony. Of. what future possibilities this may be 
the first foundation, who can say? At least it will for the fir& 
time give full scope to man's distinctive method of evolution • 
and open ^he door to many human potentialities that are as f 
yet scarcely dreamt of. Meanwhile anything that can be done 
to increase the interpretation of traditions and their fruitful 
union in a common pool will help, und is itself assuredly a 
prerequisite of full progress. 

There remains an apparent antinomy which we must try 
to resolve, the antinomy between the idea of progress and 
that of individual perfection. That opposition has been 
forcibly put by'Aldous Huxley, 1 who goes so far as to state 
that "the € final end of man is the achievement of unitive 
knowledge of the Divine Ground of all being"; and that "a 
society is good to the extent that it renders contemplatidh 

1 Op. cit. 

36 ■ 


possible to its members* \ He further identifies .progress 
merely with "progress in technology and organization", apd 
therefore as involving th« view that "the end of*human life 
is action". 

The same opposition has been eithfer expressed or actual- 
ized in a hundred different ways. "What shall it profit a man, 
if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" said 
Jesus. The .emphasis on individual salvation, as against 
realizing the kingdom of God on earth, has been on the 
whole dominant throughout Christian history, and has been 
especially intransigent when the salvation is considered to b\p 
solely by grace. Dr Joseph Needhafn has some pertinent 
remarks on this subject in his book of essays, History is on 
Our Side. He points out how, in early civilizations, the pre- 
vailing relation with the environment has determined man's 
attitude to this two-faced problem. When, as in tropical 
India, the environment was too much for struggling human- 
ity, the spiritual leaders of that humanity proclaimed the 
pessimistic view that only through the renunciation of that 
environment — the physical world — could the individual 
attain full or lasting satisfaction. But when, as in ancient 
China, the environment was amenable to human effort, 
religious philosophy adopted a worldly attitude and pro- 
claimed the intimate linkage of individual and society, of 
man and nature, in place of their opposition. 
• The same insistence on the paramountcy of individual 
development as is stressed by Aldous Huxley is also seen in 
th£ prevalent individualism of America, although the two 
points of view are bitterly opposed in other ways, American 
individualism stressing the need for self-development and 
self-expression, Aldous Huxley that for self-effacement or 
self-transcendence if the individual mind is to achieve the 
goal of losing Itself in union with the non-individual "Divine 
ground", eternal and universal. In certain conditions, on the 
other hand, the emphasis has shifted away from the indi- 
vidual and is placed upon society. This is dft&i so in tribal 
life, where the individual can scarcely be conceived of except 
as a fragment and instrument of tribal tradition; and in 
historic times it has prevailed in societies which are deliber- 
ately tightly knit and highly organized for war or peace — 



such as «the pre-Colombian Inca empire, or, in our own 
times, the^modern Japanese empire, Fascist Italy (though 
here Italian individualism was in large measure too much for 
Fascist theory), $.nd Nazi Germany, whence the believer in 
individualism was eliminated by exile, by imprisonment or 
by death. In Communist Russia, too, there is less emphasip 
on the rights and potentialities of the individual as such; 
partly because as a result of the transposition of some of 
Hegel's views on the ?tate into Marxist Philosophy, partly 
because of the conscious adoption of a theory of total, mass 
cr classless society, and no doubt partly through the exigen- 
cies of a revolutionary situation. 

The antinomy also has its evolutionary aspect. Our 
analysis shows that the mechanism of human evolution is 
a social one. But it also shows that the developed human 
individual is the highest known product of evolution, the 
fullest embodiment of progress in the universe ; in any case 
society is certainly lower than the individual in not possess- 
ing a conscious mind, with all the flexibility and potentiality, 
both of thought and action, which that connotes. Here is an 
apparent dilemma, and one which, as we have just seen, has 
often been solved by emphasizing one of the opposing 
claims to the virtual exclusion of the other. At one extreme 
the overriding duty of the individual is regarded as being to 
himself and his own development, to salvation, to the full 
pride of selfhood, or to glorious self-transcendence; and 
society is merely the environment in which he must perforce 
carry out Jthis duty. At the other extreme, the overriding 
duty of the individual ip regarded as being to the com- 
munity; and society is seen as the more important and valu- 
able entity, of which the individual i9 merely an organ. 

The opposition between the requirements and interests 
of the individual and those of society is and always will be 
profound. Indeed, all moral codes and systems of ethics are 
attempts to reconcile these opposites. The evolutionist 
intent on elaborating a workable theor^ of progress must 
attempt a fimilar reconciliation. In this, he can achieve a 
considerable degree of success, though assuredly not any 
smooth and perfect solution. We must remember c that thfe 
individual evolves as well as society — only we generally call 



his evolution development. The life of the individuaj human 
being is a process, not a mere existence, and even # the mqpt 
transcendent and apparently timeless experiences # are related 
to a dynamic development, and do not just happen statically. 
The most important of all the prerequisites for future 

Srogrpss is the acceptance of the fact of progress, and the 
nderstanding of its nature; for we cannot expect to achieve 
what we do jiot believe in. We command nature by dis- 
covering and obeying her laws. The fact of progress has now 
been discovered; but it is not yet generally acknowledged, 
still less its taws adequately understood. 

Once we accept the fact of progress, no longer need our 
beliefs be restricted to anything so partial or ephemeral as a 
particular nation, a particular religion, a particular culture. 
Nations or religions may be the necessary vehicles or the 
instruments of progress, but in so far as they are worthy of 
our devotion, they must be thought of as the embodiments 
of continuing processes in time. These proc&ses in their 
turn, in so far as in a desirable direction, must now be 
thought of as merely parts of the overriding desirable trend 
that we call progress. This is truly a continuing process. It 
has lasted for thousands of millions of years, and shows no 
sign of drawing to an end. It has already raised the upper 
level achieved by the world-stuff from the aimless jazz of 
electrons and atoms through a whole series of astonishing 
Stages. The first origin of life, with its attainment of self- 
perpetuating organization: the evolution of sense-organs, 
•with the attainment of knowledge of the world around; the 
miracles of beauty, efficiency, and* grace that are^he higher 
birds and mammals : the evolution of brains which can store 
and profit by experience : the present culmination of life in 
the emergence of man — man the microcosm, the time- 
binder, with brain and mind capable of annihilating the 
sequence of events, and tying them together in the unity of 
consciousness; capable of confronting alternatives and mak- 
ing decisions ; capable of acquiring knowledge atid producing 
beauty almost immeasurably beyond anything* previously 
realized by any single evolutionary line; capable of appreci- 
ating and creating values, and of utilizing them as standards 
and goafs; capable of throwing his thought forward into the 



future and of realizing that advances equally enormous (but 
equally impossible to visualize beforehand) are possible in 
tlic millennia to come. m 

In a way most important of all, we have a universal scale 
against which tb set the disasters and miseries of a nation, 
or of an entire age like our own. Against its broad measure 
these appear either as necessary destruction opening the wa'y 
to new construction, or as temporary setbacks.of no greater 
importance to the general trend of evolution than are the 
wavelets raised by a Contrary breeze to the sweep of the 
incoming tide. * 

And as regards our own personal lives, although nothing 
can make up for blind and cruel blows of fate, we can see 
them in a truer perspective. Paradoxically enough, this 
enables us at one and the same time to realize our pettiness 
and insignificance, but also our unique value and importance. 
For we are at one and the same time mere organs of the 
evolutionary* process, operating through society; and also, 
whether actually or only potentially, the transcendent out- 
come of evolution, through whom alone the full flower and 
fruit of progress can be actualized and embodied. 

Through the doctrine of progress we can be both con- 
soled and exhorted to effort; we can be guided and we can 
be warned; we can be given an enduring foundation, and 
also a goal. Our acceptance of the fact of progress and our 
understanding of the 'doctrine of progress constitute the 
major prerequisite of our further progress. 



Nature is not a mechanism, but a process. To define 
man's place in nature, we must discover what situation 
he occupies in the process ; to determine his role, we need to 
discover something of the essential characters not only of 
nature, but of man himself as a resultant within its process? 
and this exploration will lead to new views on the unity of 
knowledge. Our age is the first in which we can obtain a 
picture of man's place and role in nature which is both 
reasonably comprehensive and based on scientific knowledge. 
We can bfe sure that the picture is still very imperfect, that 
its comprehensiveness will be much enlarged,, and that its 
scientific basis will be powerfully strengthened ; but the fact 
remains that our century is the first in which any both 
comprehensive and scientific picture has become possible. 

In the world picture resulting from the Darwinian up- 
heaval of thought, man was no longer seen as standing over 
against nature. His place was in nature; he was as much a 
product of evolution as the animals and the plants. But in 
our grandfathers' time, even the biologists still took a re- 
stricted view of the evolutionary process. For one thing, 
they tended to look backwards, to think in terms of the 
ori^ns of preSent structures rather than of continuing trends 
and their possible future. It was not for nothing that Darwin 
called his two greatest books The Origin of Species and The 
Descent of Man : the ideas of original creation and original sin 
and the fall were still in the background of Victorian think- 
ing. For nineteenth-century biology, man's position was 
determined by comparative anatomy. The place assigned 
him was amongst the animals: Genus, Homo\ Family, 
Hominidae\ Subordfer, Anthropoidea\ Order, * Primates \ Sub- 
class, Placentalia; Class, Mammalia; Phylum, Vertebrata\ 

1 Paper presented at Conference Five of the Bicentennial Celebration of 
Columbia University, 1954, and later published in The Unity of Knowledge, 
ed. Lewis Leary,.Doubleday, New York, 1955. 

B 41 


Kingdom, Animalia. True, he was rather peculiar in various 
ways; biit H that was not allowed to interfere with the prin- 
ciples of sound zool6gical|classification. 

However, hvman peculiarities persisted in manifesting 
themselves in man's daily life. Men continued writing 
poetry, going to war, making scientific discoveries, building 

1>alaces, worshipping gods, founding colleges, training 
awyer9, and many other activities undertaken by no other 
organism. Though biological science was content to classify 
him as just another animal, in his own eyes he was still the 
•Lord of Creation, apart from the rest of nature, and in some 
unspecified sense above nature. Furthermore, in spite of 
pessimists and disheartened idealists, the unconscious as- 
sumption widely prevailed that, however disreputably 
animal man's origin might have been, the process or evolu- 
tion had now culminated in nineteenth-century civilization, 
with its scientific discoveries and its technical achievements. 
All that was now needed to put humanity on the very 
pinnacle of progress was a little more science, a little more 
rational enlightenment, and a little more universal education. 

We all know the disillusionment that has set in within the 
brief space of half a hundred years. How the orderly mech- 
anisms of nineteenth-century physics gave way to strange 
and sometimes non-rational concepts that no one but mathe- 
maticians could grasp; how the idea of relativity, and its 
somewhat illegitimate extension to human affairs, destroyed 
faith in the absolute, whether absolute truth or absolute 
morality qt absolute beauty; how our belief in the essential 
rationality and goodness of man was undermined by psy- 
chology and sent crashing in ruins by the organized cruelty 
of Belsen and the mass folly of two world wars ; and how our 
idealistic notions of progress as the inevitable result of 
science and education were shattered by events. In brief, 
man's first evolutionary picture of nature and his own place 
in it proved false in its design and had to be scrapped. 

Meanwhile/ however, knowledge Has marched on in 
many fielcfe : even disillusionment has brought a better under- 
standing of our limitations, and the new knowledge is making 
possible the redesigning of our world picture. The twentieth 
century, besides introducing us to the new world of atomic 


man's place and role in nature 

physics and quantum theory at one end of the scale and to 
that of relativity theory and the expanding universe of spif al 
nebulae at the other, ha« given us our knowledge of the 
method and course of biological evolution > of the develop- 
ment and working of the human conscious and subconscious 
mind j and of its interactions with the body; of the variety of 
human societies and cultures revealed by social anthropology 
and ethnology; and of the course of human history and 
pre-history — in other words cultural evolution — from the 
Upper Paleolithic to the present day. 

As a resuft, our picture of man's place and role in nature 
has once more changed. Though obviously this picture too 
will change in the future, we may expect the change to be 
one of natural growth and development, not the substitution 
of a wholly new design; for the present pattern is, as I 
emphasized earlier, the first to enjoy a reasonably compre- 
hensive basis of scientific knowledge. . 

What, then, is the picture that emerges? First, we dis- 
cover that all nature is a single process. We may properly 
call it evolution, if we define evolution as a self-operating, 
self-transforming process which in its course generates both 
greater variety and higher levels of organization. Though 
single and continuous, it is divisible into three distinct sub- 
processes or phases, each with its own distinctive methods 
and results. They are the inorganic or cosmological, the 
Srganic or biological, and the human or psycho-social. The 
second is less extensive both in space and time than the first, 
out # of which "it arises, the third less than the second. 

The cosmological phase covers all but a tiny fraction of 
the universe. It operates by methods of simple physical and 
chemical interaction and its tempo of change is exceedingly 
slow; its products show very limited variety and attain only 
a low level of*organization. Nowhere in it can we discern 
any mental activity. 

The biological phase we know of only on out own planet, 
thought it is presufned to exist also on a small minority of 
other planetary specks. It operates by the self-reproduction 
and self-variation of organic matter, which give rise to the 
Aethod of self-transformation we call natural selection — the 
differential reproduction of variants. With the aid of this 



method fts tempo of change is faster, the variety of its results 
much greafer, and the level of organization which some of 
them attain very mucn higher. Its r operations affect not only 
organic beings but that portion of the inorganic sector which 
is their home. In its later stages, mental activities are obvious 
and important. ■ h 

Finally, the psychosocial phase we again know of only on 
this planet, though it may possibly have arisen also in a small 
fraction of other abodes of life. It operates by the self- 
reproduction and self-variation of mind and its products, 
Vhich give rise to the method of cultural evolution based on 
cumulative experience. As a result, the tempo of its change, 
the variety of its products, and the height of organization 
reached are again enormously increased, as are its effects 
upon the portions of the other two phases of the process 
within the range of its influence. In the psycho-social phase, 
mental activities are more important than material. 

Man's place in this process needs to be determined both 
in space and in time. Spatially, astronomy has now defined 
his place with some accuracy. It is an extremely small place. 
He inhabits one planet of one among hundreds of millions 
of stars in one among hundreds of millions of spiral nebulae 
or galaxies dispersed in an ocean of space to be measured in 
hundreds of millions of light-years. Temporally, the deter- 
mination is less precise, partly because our knowledge of the 
past length of the process is less accurate, partly because itt 
future can only be estimated. We can, however, affirm that 
man has .come into existence somewhere in the micldle 
reaches of the process, neither close to its beginning nor to 
its end. If, as some prefer to believe, human civilization 
represents the climax of evolution, it'is only a climax to date, 
and has unimagined possibilities of further change still 
before it. 

The minimum age of our galaxy is estimated at four or 
five thousand million years, and the age of our planet at three 
to four thousand million. On that plahet, matter became 
self-reproducing — in common parlance, life originated — 
somewhere over two thousand million years ago, man less 
than one million and civilization a bare five thousand yeafe 
back. Since astronomers and theoretical physjcist§ give life 


man's place and role in nature 

on this earth a future at least as long as its past, if is fair to 
say that man's temporal place in jiature is «omewh£re 
roughly midway in the pfocess. 

So-called modern man and his civilizations are thus in no 
sense a final product of evolution, but only a temporary phase 
in the process. Furthermore, realization of our transitional 
and midway position demands that we cease thinking only 
of past origifts and pay attention also to future possibilities. 

A consideration of man's role in nature strengthens these 
conclusions jdrawn from a better definition of his place in 
it. In the last fifty years, thanks chiefjy to the discoveries oT 
the paleontologists, we have for the first time gained a 
reasonably accurate picture of the way in which biological 
evolution pursues its course in time. There has been, we 
find, a succession of organizational types, the later-appearing 
ones possessing a higher level of organization than the 
earlier. Structural organization rises from the pre-cellular to 
the cellular and the multi-cellular level; there follows the 
multi-tissued type, like the sea-anemone, and then the 
multi-organed type like the worm or the mollusc or the early 
arthropod. The multi-organed animal attains new mech- 
anical and physiological levels, as in Crustacea and fish, new 
and superior modes of organization of reproduction, as in 
insects and reptiles, and new levels of behaviour appear, as in 
birds and mammals and social insects. New methods of 
Integration and homeostatic adjustment arise, such as the 
endocrine system and the temperature-regulating mechan- 
ism of higher vertebrates. 

Each major improvement in organization brings into 
existence a new and higher type, which then proceeds to 
demonstrate its improved nature by its biological success, as 
evidenced by its rapid multiplication and extension. The 
single original type radiates out into a number of separate 
lines or sub-types, each exploiting, in some special habitat 
or way of life, the advantages of the general qj-ganizational 
improvement possessed by the type. 

General evolutionary advance is marked by a succession 
of successful dominant types, each undergoing expansion 
anfl specialized radiation, and each in turn supplanted in its 
position of dominance by a later type which has evolved 



some new major improvement. The classical example, and 
thfe one most relevant to my present purpose, is that of land 
vertebrates. During the past three hundred million years, 
the amphibians* were, replaced as dominant type by the 
reptiles, the reptiles by the birds and the mammals, the birds 
and the mammals by man. The successful expansion ancj 
diversification of each new type was correlated with the 
reduction of the previous radiation, as dramatically illus- 
trated by the extinction of many orders of reptiles towards 
the end of the Mesozoic. 

* Another important general characteristic of biological 
evolution is that the great majority of evolutionary trends are 
intrinsically limited : after a longer or shorter time they come 
to a dead end. In the most general and non-committal terms, 
directional change is normally succeeded by stabilization. 

This obviously holds good for the relatively minor trends 
we call specializations, like the specialization of whales for a 
secondarily aquatic life or of horses for grazing and rapid 
running. But, as my grandfather T. H. Huxley was one of 
the first to point out, it holds good also for major organiza- 
tional trends and improvements. The occupants of the bio- 
logical scene are for the most part what he called "persistent 
types", which have remained unchanged in their essential 
characteristics from the moment when they have come up 
against their invisible limitations. The most spectacular are 
the so-called "living fossils" like the lungfishes, which have* 
persisted as rare survivors of a once abundant group for over 
threehund/red millions years; or the lampshell Lingula, which 
is barely to be distinguished from its ancestors preserved in 
the Ordovician rocks of four hundred million years ago. 
But an entire successful group may persist. The Coelenter- 
ates, such as jellyfish, polyps, and corals, certainly first 
became abundant and successful well before the beginning 
of the fossil record in the Cambrian, that is to say much more 
than five hiyidred million years ago; and they are still 
abundant and successful to-day. This (foes not mean that 
there has Seen no evolutionary change within the group 
during this portentous length of time. New specialized sub- 
groups, for instance of cbrals, have arisen and old subgroups 
have died out. But the coelenterate level of organization has 


man's place and role in nature 

never been transcended by such new sub-groups: the 
coelenterate type of construction and working has persisted, 
though variations have bpen played oh its essential theme. 

The same holds true even tor the latest and most finished 
products of evolution. The ants, in ftiany ways the highest 
invertebrate type, have shown neither advance nor essential 
thange since the time, some fifty million years ago, when 
ancestral specimens were trapped in the resin that has 
hardened into Baltic amber. The bird type has not changed 
in its basic quality of warm-blooded flying machine for 
perhaps twfenty-five million years, although much minor 
specialization has taken place, adapting different avian 
lines to different habitats, niches, and ways of life. not only levels of organization and plans of construc- 
tion which became stabilized; improvements in functional 
capacity find biological performance also reach a limit. The 
limit has long been reached in respect of terrestrial size, of 
elaboration of instinct, of speed in water, on land, or in the 
air. It appears biologically impossible to develop greater 
acuity of vision than that of hawks, and biologically un- 
profitable to increase the delicacy and accuracy of tempera- 
ture-regulation beyond that achieved tens of millions of 
years ago both by birds and mammals. Digestion, nervous 
conduction, mechanical support, muscular contraction, 
chemical co-ordination — all have long since reached the 
highest level of efficiency possible to animal life. 

To be brief, it appears that some time in the Pliocene, 
befween five and ten million years ago, the possibilities of 
major improvement in the material and physiological pro- 
perties of self-reproducing matter had been exhausted. The 
purely biological phage of evolution on this planet had 
reached its upper limit, and natural selection was no longer 
capable of producing any further large advance. 

This does not mean that all biological evolution has come 
to an end, as is often mistakenly alleged. New species are 
constantly being evolved, and we can be suretHtit new trends 
will continue to bring new types into being. But these trends 
will all operate on existing levels of organization, and no 
advance to a new and higher level will, it seems, be possible, 
nor an)T major improvement in biological efficiency. 



You will observe that my statement contained two caveats. 
Ope was that the method of natural selection alone was in- 
capable of f>roducing\£urther larg$ advance; the other, that 
in Pliocene times the possibilities of material and physio- 
logical improvement had reached a limit. The two hang 
together. The possibilities of improvement in the mental or 
psychological capacities of life had not been exhausted: and 
when their improvement reached a critical value, a new 
method of evolutionary transformation became available. 

The one line in which mental improvement reached this 
critical value was that of our hominid ancestors ; # and the new 
evolutionary method which became available to it was the 
method of the transmission and transformation of tradition. 
This method of communication by concept and symbol pro- 
vided an additional mechanism of inheritance involving the 
cumulative transmission of acquired experience, • and per- 
mitted a much speedier and in many ways more effective 
type of evolutionary transformation, which we may call cul- 
tural evolution. With the passing of this critical point, 
hominids became men, man became the new dominant type, 
and the human or psycho-social phase of evolution was 
initiated on our earth. 

Biological evolution depends on natural selection, which 
was made possible when matter became capable of self- 
reproduction and self-variation. Psycho-social or cultural 
evolution depends on cumulative tradition, which was made 
possible when mind and its products became capable of self- 
reproduction and self-variation. • • 

The emergence of ma,n'as latest dominant type imposed a 
further restriction on the evolutionary possibilities of the 
rest of life. Even should the conclusion prove unjustified 
that purely biological evolution has reached its limit and 
become stabilized, and some new animal typfe should arise 
which threatened man's dominant position, man would 
assuredly be able to discern and counter the threat in its 
early stages. Man is thus to-day the only organism capable 
of further major transformation or evolutionary advance. 

Our knowledge thus now enables us to define man's role 
as well as his place in nature. His role is to be the instrument 
of the evolutionary process on this planet, the sofe agent 


man's place and role in nature 

capable of effecting major advances and of realizing new 
possibilities for evolving life. This, however, is gnly a brflad 
and general statement. To define his role more accurately we 
need to study in more detail the peculiarities of man as a 
unique psycho-social organism, and the trends and mechan- 
ismstof his new form of evolution. 

Man's decisive uniqueness is his possession of a self- 
reproducing tradition. His many other biologically unique 
characteristics are either prerequisites for or secondary con- 
sequences of this, and need not be discussed in the present 
context. It was the primary uniqueness of self-reproducirfjjj 
tradition which enabled him to become the new dominant 
type in evolution. This property of man depends on his 
capacity for true speech, which in turn is correlated with his 
capacity for conceptual thinking. True speech involves the 
use of tfords as symbols to denote objects and ideas, as 
against all forms of animal language and communication, 
which merely utilize auditory or visual signs to express 
feelings or attitudes. 

Thinkers discussing the distinctive characters of man 
have usually laid their main or sole emphasis on intellectual 
or rational thought, and on language as its vehicle. This is 
precisely because they were thinkers, not artists, or practical 
men, or religious mystics, and therefore tended to over-value 
their own methods of coping with reality and ordering ex- 
perience. In addition, the verbal formulation of intellectual 
propositions promises greater exactitude and facilitates the 
accurate and* large-scale transmission of experierce. 

But this intellectual and linguistic over-emphasis is 
dangerous. It readily degenerates into logic-chopping or 
mere verbalism. What is more serious, it takes no account of 
man's emotional and aesthetic capacities, exalts reason and 
logical analysis at the expense of intuition and imagination, 
and neglects the important role of arts and skills, rituals and 
religious experiences in social life and cultu^l evolution. 
The evolutionary philosopher (and also the true humanist, 
whether he be anthropologist, historian, psychologist, or 
social scientist) must take all the facts into account: he must 
attempt a comprehensive view of man's special character- 
istics, and of their effects on his evolution. 



The distinctive feature of man is that he is a cultural 
animal. In the psychosocial phase, it is cultures that evolve. 
I am of course using cultures in the anthropologist's sense, of 
patterns of language and law, ritual and belief, art and skill, 
ideas and technology, which all have to be learned and all 
depend on symbols and their communication, instead of 
being innate and depending on sign-stimuli and their inter- 
action with releasing mechanisms as in animals. In animal 
evolution there is a sbarp distinction between soma and 
germ-plasm, between the organization for living and the 
organization for reproduction and transmission. 1 In psycho- 
social evolution this " distinction breaks down: cultural 
patterns are, in Washburn's words, both "shared and trans- 
mitted", so that culture is simultaneously both the soma and 
germ-plasm of the social organism. 

All the components of culture are in the lasf analysis 
symbolic; they exist only in virtue of man's powers of mental 
conception, his faculties of abstraction and generalization, of 
creative imagination and systematization — in a word, of 
constructing organized patterns of conscious experience, 
thought and purpose. Cultures are based on pre-existing 
material conditions and issue in new material effects; but 
they are predominantly the creation of mental activity in the 
widest sense. 

However, we need a term to denote mind in this broad 
sense, as including all kinds of conscious experience and 
activity, rational intellect and imagination, emotionally 
motivated, beliefs and attitudes, mystical experiences ind 
aesthetic expressions, deliberate technical skills and symbolic 
ritual actions. I shall use the term noetic for this purpose. 
Although it has been sometimes restricted to intellectual 
activity, it is derived from the Greek word for mind, and has 
been applied in this general sense by two pioneers, both 
having begun significantly as biologists. St John Mivart 
used noesis tp denote "the sum total of the mental action 
of a rational animal"; and P&re TeilhardMu Chardin, in his 
remarkable book Le Phenomhe Humain (Paris, 1955), 
speaks of man and his activities as constituting the noo sphere, 
as against the biosphere which denotes the total of the organic 
inhabitants of the earth. 


man's place and role in nature 

I would accordingly suggest the term noetic system or 
noosystem to denote the complex of the shareable and trans- 
missible activities and products of human mind, the pattern 
thought and science, law and morality, art and ritual, which 
forms the basis of human society. These noetic patterns will 
^differ from culture to culture, and often within a single 
culture. The study of how they are transmitted and how they 
change and evolve in time should be the central quest of the 
sciences of man : we might call it noogenetics. 

I introduce these terms merely to save time in later dis- 
cussion. WW is important is the functions which tlfe 
systems carry out. Man's place in 'nature, we have seen, 
is at the present summit of the evolutionary process on this 
planet; and his role is to conduct that process to still further 
heights. The mechanisms by which he can perform that role 
are his noetic systems — self-reproducing cultural agencies, 
superorganic products of conscious human organisms. He is 
now the agent of evolution, whether he knows it or not; but 
he will perform his role better if he is a conscious agent. 

His evolution is now almost wholly a cultural evolution, 
operated by the transformation of shared and transmissible 
noetic systems — in other words, symbol-based systems — and 
their communication, both in space and in directional time. 
Throughout its history, the human species has operated by 
means of a number of distinct and often hostile or even irre- 
concilable noosystems; and none of them so far have fully 
or accurately represented the realities of nature. Both these 
facts have impaired their functional value in psycho-social 
evolution, and have prevented man from adequately per- 
forming his evolutionary role. 

Man differs from aft other dominant types — indeed from 
all biological types whatsoever — in that he has not split up 
into separate sub-groups, has not radiated out into a number 
of biologically discrete lines of specialization and adaptation, 
but has remained biologically a single interbreeding group 
or species. Culturally, however, he has split up — into a 
number of social or cultural lines or "interthinkifig groups", 
each with its own noosystem as basis for its existence and its 

It would glearly make desirable psycho-social evolution 


easier to undertake and to operate effectively if the entire 
spfecies shared one noosystem, one single body of knowledge, 
ideas, and attitudes. Fk>m this angk, the unity of knowledge 
is part of the noetic uqity which we must strive to attain if 

the intellectual and practical fruits of science and learnihg — : 
"the sciences" in their broad European connotation, both 
natural and human, both pure and applied, and not only 
academic knowledge but also "know-how". 

The possible creation of a unity of knowledge by extend- 
ing a common system of facts and ideas to the whole human 
species had a number of implications. Since the only potenti- 
ally universal type of knowledge is scientific, in the broad 
sense of resting on verifiable observation or experiment, it 
follows that this unity of knowledge will only be attained 
by the abandonment of non-scientific methods of system- 
atizing experience, such as mythology and supersitition, 
magico-religious and purely intuitional formulations. Here 
is an enormous and vitally important task for intellectuals 
of the world — to foster the growth and spread of a 
scientifically based noosystem. 

This will also help to remove the second major defect of 
all existing and past noosystems — their lack of correspond- 
ence with the facts of nature. The facts of nature of course 
embrace not only cosmic, physical, and biological nature but 
also the facts of human or psycho-social nature, including 
social organization and cultural evolution; what is more, 
they embrace not only the facts of static organization tut 
also the dynamics of nature as a process. 

In so far as we succeed in constructing a system which 
represents the facts of nature, we shall have created not 
merely another noosystem, but a noocosm — a % noetic micro- 
cosm which both illuminates and in a certain sense embodies 
the macrocosmic process. Such a system would be a new 
organ of evoking life, an organ both of comprehension and 
of control, through which we could no\ only reach some 
comprehension of the cosmic process — nature in the fullest 
sense — but also implement its further progress. 

I am not so naive as tb believe that only one noetif system* 
can exist in any community. Actually, "one. society, one 

we are to fulfil our destiny. Knowledj 

this sense includes 

5 2 


man's place and role in nature 

noosystem" is the exception : in advanced societies, a number 
of distinct noetic systems normally coexist. To fliscuss this 
phenomenon in detail is beyond the Scope of this essay. It 
must suffice to point out the following faats. First, the co- 
existing systems may be complementary, as in a stable 
^ociety organized on a class basis. I may instance the atti- 
tudes and ideas of the peasants, the clergy, and the feudal 
lords in the Middle Ages, or those of the "labouring classes" 
and the Whig aristocracy in the eighteenth century. Though 
there may be some friction between such separate systems, 
they function essentially as parts of a larger though looser 
unity. Secondly, as a corollary of this,* there are usually some 
key concepts and attitudes common to all classes or groups 
of a •complex society; it is these which provide the total 
system with what unity it has. Thirdly, one of the partial 
systems fs usually dominant, in the sense that it has more 
operative effect on the development of the society as an 
organized community. This is so, for instance, wherever 
power is concentrated in the hands of an oligarchy, whether 
the great Whig landowners of Britain in the eighteenth 
century or the Central Committee of the Communist party 
in the U.S.S.R. to-day. 

Finally, there may be a struggle for dominance between 
partial systems, which then naturally appear in opposition, 
and may come into active conflict. In such cases we are wit- 
nessing an important feature of psycho-social evolution, a 
noogenetic phenomenon analogous to the rise of an im- 
proved type'in biological evolution. Analogous, 0 but by no 
means identical. In biological evolution the types are con- 
demned to remain distinct, and the struggle must result 
either in their permanent competitive co-existence, or in the 
expansion and rise to dominance of one, accompanied by the 
decline and reduction or extinction of the other. Though the 
same sort of results may occur in psycho-social evolution, as 
witnessed by the continued co-existence of thg theistic and 
the scientific systftm in Western Europe "during the last 
three centuries, or by the rise of the Marxist system to 
dominance in post-revolutionary Russia, there are also addi- 
tional possibilities. Elements of a less successful system may 
be'incorporated in one which is newly dominant, as with the 



absorption by Christianity (and indeed by all higher religious 
systems in t;heir early ftages) of elements of magic and ani- 
mism from more pririiitive systems; or, still more interest- 
ing, conflict may be transcended in a new unification, and 
opposing system may be more or less completely reconciled 
in a higher synthesis, as happened when the new central idea 
of religious toleration brought religious persecution and the 
wars of religion to an end in Christian Europe, and as is 
beginning to happen ijj the world community to-day with 
the first transcendence of conflicting nationalisms by a supra- 
nationalist system of ideas and practice. 

This brings me to another aspect of noetic unity. Man's 
systems of shared experience and attitude acquire increased 
unity not only externally by extension through greater areas 
and greater numbers of people, but also internally by greater 
integration. This is accomplished by what may De called 
noetic integrators — symbolic or conceptual constructions 
which serve to interpret large fields of reality, to transform 
experience into attitude and unify factual knowledge in 
belief. The general role of noetic integrators has never, so 
far as I am aware, been adequately explored, though atten- 
tion has been paid to integrating concepts in the intellectual 
fields of science and philosophy, and to the integrative role of 
symbols in ritual and art. 

In science, an integrating concept is one which orders a 
mass of fects and ideas into an organized pattern : it may be* 
styled an intellectual organizer, roughly analogous to the 
biological prganizer discovered by Spemann which imposes 
a pattern of organization on the early embryo of vertebrates. 
Thus the pattern of scientific thought and knowledge 
imposed by the concept of the conservation of matter and 
energy is quite different from that determined by the medi- 
eval ideas of force and the four elements, besides unifying 
a much larger quantity of facts. 

Even in the purely intellectual and scientific spheres, 
many organizing concepts are successful because they 
integrate apparent disparates or even reconcile apparent 
opposites. Thus the concept of temperature reconciles the 
originally opposed concepts of hotness and coldness. On a( 
vaster scale, modern physical theory not only integrates all 

54 ' 

man's place and role in nature 

the multifarious forms of physical existence in the single 
concept of matter and the diverse tjpes of physical action 
in the single concept of energy, but reconciles the inertness of 
matter and the activity of energy in a still more embracing 
synthesis. Similarly modern evolutionary genetic theory not 
only, demonstrates the unity of life — green plants, animals, 
bacteria, and the rest — all based on the common mechanism 
of the chromosomal gene-complex, but also feconciles con- 
stancy with change. , 

When we come to the fields of belief and morality, atti- 
tude and expression, in which values and emotions are 
involved as well as knowledge, this capacity of noetic 
integrators for combining or reconciling opposites becomes 
even more important. Many such integrators are symbolic 
constructs, and it is in the very nature of a successful symbol 
to be a tomplex unity, capable of bringing together many 
disjoined or even disparate elements in a single effective 

I am using symbol in the broadest possible sense, to denote 
the whole range of noetic constructions to which man has 
assigned significance, from national flags to gods, from 
slogans to celebrations, from rituals to works of art. 

Many early rituals, like ritual cannibalism or the rites of 
Adonis, combine the opposites of death and life, of sacrifice 
and fulfilment; and this persists in sublimated form in rites 
Mike that of the Mass, For Christians, the cross is charged 
with a multiplicity of emotional, ethical and religious values 
wRich it unites in its single symbol. In human personality, 
many separate faculties are united, many conflicting im- 
pulses at least partially reconciled: thus a personal god is a 
more effective integrator than an impersonal one. However, 
since a monotheistic god must logically come to include 
more aspects "of reality than can be credibly or intelligibly 
symbolized as a single personality, trinitarianism is a more 
effective theological concept than unitarianism ; it provides 
the godhead with f three Persons symbolizifig* three aspects 
of the realities of human destiny, aspects so different that 
they could scarcely be found within the confines of a single 
personality, while yet insisting on the oneness of the trinity 
as symbol of the over-riding unity of the universe. 



One final general point before I get down to my particular 
task: all noetic integrators have an intellectual core of some 
sort and degree; or, nx>m another<>angle, all effective sym- 
bolic constructs bave a knowledge aspect, all contain an idea 
or system of ideas, wKether explicit and conscious, or un- 
conscious and implicit. This applies to expressive constructs, 
such as works of art and rituals as well as to scientific or 
ethical or theological integrators. This is another way of 
saying that, since all symbolic constructs arid all noetic 
integrators have as their essential function the significant 
interpretation of reality as presented in available' experience, 
they will perform that' function better in so far as they em- 
brace a larger field of experience and correspond more 
accurately with reality. 

This is of the greatest importance for man's evolution. 
For on the one hand it stresses the desirability of cdntinuing 
to extend our experience and enlarge our knowledge of 
reality; and on the other hand it warns against noetic 
fossilization, and emphasizes the danger of our symbolic 
constructs and noetic integrators becoming rigid and not 
keeping pace with the growth of our knowledge. 

We are now in a position to consider the relation between 
man's place and role in nature and the unity of knowledge, 
or, as I would prefer to say, the unity of organized experi- 
ence. If man's role is to be the instrument of further evolu- 
tion of this planet, he needs the best possible noosystem to' 
enable him to perform that role effectively. To start with, he 
requires tq extend his knowledge of the unitaty process 1 of 
reality that we call nature, including of course the part of 
reality included in his own nature and his own psycho-social 
evolution ; research must be vigorously prosecuted in every 
field of science and learning. Secondly, he must attempt to 
unify his knowledge by systematizing it and f>y discovering 
the interrelations between different fields of experience. For 
example, our a^e is the first in history in which we have 
acquired a comprehensive knowledge of Historical fact, from 
the present* back to the paleolithic, and therefore the first 
age in which it is possible to attempt a unified history, such 
as the Scientific and Cultural History of Mankind sponsored 
by Unesco. If this attempt is successful, it will mark an im- 

man's place and role in nature 

{>ortant advance in the unified articulation of factual know- 
edge. It has now become possible to produce similar unified 
articulations of factual kry)wledge in other major fields, such 
as physical geography, material resources, or biological 

Such extensive systems or articulations of knowledge are 
valuable and necessary bases for noetic unification ; but they 
need to be supplemented by the intensive fhechanism of 
noetic integrators if we are to aclyeve integration in the 
domain of beliefs and attitudes, and therefore the overall 
unification £ dynamic noosystem. 

How does all this apply to our immediate task? Let me 
recapitulate the essentials of the problem. Psycho-social 
evolution is cultural : it operates via the culture-complex, and 
is realized through the evolutionary transformation of cul- 
tures. Ndosystems play a necessary and important part in 
cultural evolution ; and noetic integrators provide a necessary 
and important part of the driving force and interpretative 
efficiency of noosystems. Our problem thus is to develop 
noetic integrators suitable for our present phase of cultural 
evolution. They must be consonant with the structure and 
the trends of man's present system of knowledge: they must 
also help to secure a pattern and direction of cultural evolu- 
tion which will most effectively enable man to perform his 
evolutionary role in nature. 

The most important facts and ideas which our new 
integrators must symbolize, focus, and order seem to me to 
be fhese. First, the fact of the unity of nature, of /he entire 
reality of the cosmos — unitary monism as against any form of 
dualism, whether the dualism of natural and supernatural, 
of body and spirit, of actual and ideal, or of matter and mind. 1 
Secondly, the fact that nature is a process, all reality a 
pattern of processes — evolution as against static mechanism, 
change as against fixity. Thirdly, the fact that evolution is 
directional, that it generates greater variety, higher organ- 
ization, increase of Oriental activity, more definite and more 
conscious values — the idea of possible progress afid advance 

1 Like so many philosophical terms, monism has been employed in a 
cflnfu9ing number of way9. I use it simply to denote a unitary and compre- 
hensive as against a dualist, pluralist, or restrictive approach. 



as against stability or retrogression or mere alteration, of 
significant as against pon-significant change or no change at 
all. We can reformulate this last# point in terms of possi- 
bilities. Evolutionary advance consists in the realization of 
new possibilities by nature: thus we explore the areas and 
limits of possibilities, as against merely studying or accept- 
ing actualities. Finally, we have the fact that man's role is 
to be the instrument of further evolution on this planet — an 
evolutionary view of human destiny as against a theological 
or a magical, a fatalistic or a hedonistic one. 
c The precise form which the new integrators' should take 
as effective noetic organs is not for any individual to pre- 
scribe : it can only emerge as the result of much co-operative 
discussion. Certain conclusions, however, seem inevitable. 
It is clear, I think, that the dualistic ordering of experience 
round the two incompatible integrators of natural 2nd super- 
natural must go, and must be replaced by the idea of universal 
unity. Similarly the duality of material and spiritual elements 
in civilization must somehow be resolved in the unity of 
psycho-social culture, and that of mind and body in the 
concept of psychosomatic integration. Again the apparent 
opposites of individual and society became complementary 
within the concept of cultural evolution ; and the conflicting 
desires for success in, and escape from, the limited present 
can be reconciled in. the idea of progressive realization of 

Gods have been extremely potent noetic integrators in the 
last millennia of human history: but it is becoming clear that 
God, like all other concepts involving the animistic projec- 
tion of man's mental and spiritual attributes into non-human 
nature, is ceasing to have interpretative value and needs 
replacing by some non-animistic construction, such as the 
concept of self-transforming and self-transcending reality. 
The ideas of comprehensible activity and orderly process 
will perhaps replace those of divine omniscience and omni- 
potence, and the concepts of operative s&credness and effect- 
ive ideals supplant that of God's sanctity and goodness. 

Assuredly the concept of man as instrument and agent of 
the evolutionary process will become the dominant integ- 
rator of all ideas about human destiny, and will set the pattern 


man's place and role in nature 

of our general attitude to life. It will replace the idea of man 
as the Lord of Creation, as the puppejt of blind fate, or as 
the willing or unwilling subject of a Divine Master. 

New integrators are also needed for more limited and 
more immediate fields of experience and action. For instance, 
the facts of national interdependence, the existence of grossly 
under-developed areas, the incipient schemes for supra- 
national action in the spheres of politics, economics and 
so-called Technical Assistance, could all be integrated in the 
dynamic idea of joint participation in a common enterprise 
of world development. 

The often rather futile discussions as to the status of the 
artist and the significance of art can be resolved by taking a 
functional view: the function of the artist is to bear witness 
to the variety and richness of reality, and to express it 
effectivel/ and significantly in terms related to the life and 
aims of man. 

Again, the role of writers, philosophers, columnists, and 
journalists would gain both clarity and dignity by being 
integrated under the head of interpretation : they are, or can 
be, the interpreters of reality, and the profession of inter- 
preter of reality could in part take the place of that of 
prophet, which, in its original sense, has long fallen into 

For petitionary prayer we must substitute what may be 
dfescribed as dynamic meditation, a spiritual discipline which 
gives a set to the whole psyche and attunes it to wider and 
higher levels <5f reality. Our decendants will have t9 coin the 
right phrase to denote the noetic integrator for this purpose. 

The ideal of social or professional success, based on a one- 
sided specialization of* some single faculty or skill and 
evaluated in material or quantitative terms, needs to be 
supplemented and in large measure replaced by the ideal of 
wholeness. The integrator here is integration; the aim the 
development of an integrated personality, an inngr harmony, 
with peace as its product. The concept of the # Absolute 
would seem destined to disappear in all fields, whether of 
truth, beauty, goodness or any other value, to be replaced 
by those of satisfying wholeness, of self-transcendence, and 
of desirable direction. 



Finally, I would prophesy that the central overriding 
integrator, round wl^ich man's entire noetic system is organ- 
ized, will be that of fulfilment — satisfaction through fuller 
realization of possibilities. In the light of this concept, the 
sharp antinomies between individual and society, between 
nation and mankind, disappear, for each has its claim to its 
own fulfilment, and all are complementary within the total 
process of the evolutionary fulfilment of life. Past, present, 
and future are similarly united in its synthetic grasp, and the 
sharp opposition between the ideal and the real, between 
'the abstract and the actual, is reconcilable in the concept 
of the increasing realization of possibilities. 

This does of course not mean that conflicts will or should 
vanish: but they will appear as inevitable and often necessary 
steps in the reconciliatory dialectic process which can pro- 
duce greater fulfilment. Nor does it mean that mafhkind will 
be furnished with a set of rules applicable to particular 
situations. It is of the essence of a good noetic integrator to 
be general and elastic: its function is to determine approach 
and determine attitude, not to provide detailed guidance. 

Nor would general acceptance of fulfilment as central 
noetic concept ensure that human beings would always rule 
their actions and their lives in accordance with it. Men will 
continue to steal and kill, to act stupidly and deceitfully, as 
they have done in the past in spite of their general acceptance 
of the integrating concepts of theistic religions. But man's 
noetic systems do have an influence on his actions: they 
determine and provide the general policy and the general 
set of his cultural behaviour, through which he pursues his 

It is further obvious that noetic systems differ in their 
efficiency and value, and I would maintain that in the world's 
present age, one organized round the integrating concept 
of fulfilment will achieve a greater degree of unity than any 
other, and ^iH give man more help in the better accomplish- 
ment of his role in nature. 


evolution; cultural and 

When I was invited by the Wcnner-Gren Foundation to 
prepare '"a guest editorial on a subject of my choice", 
concerning my views on anthropology, I was naturally 
flattered, but f also experienced considerable trepidation. Even 
if an evolutionary biologist had any views on anthropology,"* 
how could they be of any value to' professional anthro- 
pologists? However, I reflected, an evolutionary biologist, if 
he should not aspire to views on anthropology, might be 
expected to have some views of anthropology in relation to 
his own subject. This, then, is what I shall attempt — a view 
of anthropology sub specie evolutionis, in the belief that the 
general concepts and principles derived from biology will 
prove to have illuminating applications or implications for the 
more restricted and younger sister-science of anthropology. 

Let me at the outset make a comprehensive disclaimer. I 
do not believe that any purely biological concepts and 
principles can be immediately applied or directly transferred 
to anthropology. In fact I know they cannot; the various 
past attempts at such direct transference and application 
have always resulted in confusion rather than clarification. 
The reason is simple : although the history of man is clearly 
part of a more general evolutionary process, its basis and 
mechanism is something sui generis. Man is a unique organ- 
ism with unique properties, and there must be specifically 
anthropological concepts and principles whose application 
is restricted to jnan. 

In the last few decades it has become clear that the whole 
of phenomenal reality is a single process, which properly 
may be called evolution. Though the process Revolution is 
unitary, embracing* the entire universe both in^space and 
time, it is divisible into three very distinct sectors or phases, 
each with its own characteristic mechanism, tempo, and type 
of product — the inorganic or cosmological; the later and 
1 Gue9t editorial written for the Yearbook of Anthropology, 1955. 



much restricted organic or biological sector arose as a later 
phase from the inorganic; and the still later and still further 
restricted human or psycho-social. 

We have in the last half-century arrived at an adequate 
general understanding of the biological sector. This has been 
due to detailed study, first of what evolves — lineages qf 
organisms of various types, including their structure, physi- 
ology and ontogeny, and their ecological relations; secondly, 
of the genetic basis of, evolution — the mechanism of repro- 
duction, hereditary transmission and transformation, includ- 
ing the gene-complex, variation, and natural selection ; thirdly, 
of evolution as a process — the mechanisms and modes of its 
self-transforming course, as revealed in phases of change 
and stabilization, in radiation and extinction, in succession 
of dominant types, in emergence of higher material and 
mental organization ; and finally by a synthesis of the relevant 
results in all three fields. Our knowledge of this interlocking 
trinity of subject-matter — the mechanisms for maintaining 
existence, the bases of reproduction and variation, and the 
modes of evolutionary transformation — had first to be 
gathered and then synthesized, to give us an understanding 
of life's total process. 

The same must assuredly hold for the human or psycho- 
social phase. Anthropology is the science of the psycho- 
social sector. It cannot expect to make full and compre- 
hensive progress if it restricts its field. The study of sociAI 
psychology and of the psychological mechanisms underlying 
various culture traits is important; so is a study of social 
structure and cultural Working; and that of personality; and 
of social institutions and of systems and methods of educa- 
tion; and of culture-contact; and of kinship systems, totemic 
organizations, and religions; and of material artifacts; and 
of linguistic, technological, aesthetic, scientific, and other 
partial modes of evolution : but none is sufficient by itself. 

As in the biological sector, so in the human: we need a 
knowledge of the mechanisms that mslintain psycho-social 
existence, 'of their reproduction and variation, of the mech- 
anisms and modes of their transformations in time, to give 
us a general understahding of the psycho-social process as a 
whole — in other words, of man. 



But anthropology was inevitably a late starter in the 
scientific race, and it has to cope with % subject-matter both 
more complex and more # confused than that of any other 
science. No wonder that understanding of the psycho-social 
sector of reality lags behind that of the biological and the 

Long before biology was born as a science, it seemed 
obvious that »the individual organism provided the mechan- 
ism for maintaining existence in the # biological sector. But 
though this holds for most higher animals, and though there 
is a marked Irend toward sharper and fuller individuation iit 
the course of biological evolution, lafer study showed that 
this naive conclusion was not quite so obvious as it at first 
sight Jiad appeared. In many forms it is difficult and in some 
impossible to determine the limits or even the nature of the 
individual organism. However, there does always exist some 
organization of living matter whose function it is to main- 
tain itself in direct interaction with its environment. In the 
terminology of modern genetics, we may speak of this as 
the phenotypic system. It may be composed of single indi- 
vidual organisms, usually of two sexes, or of communities or 
societies of such separate individuals (as in gregarious 
mammals or social insects) or of colonies in which the 
individuals are physically united and lose much of their 
pristine individuality (as with the cells of a metazoan or the 
•individuals" of a siphonophore or a bath-sponge). But it is 
always a system for maintaining existence. The study of its 
structure and form constitutes anatomy and mcyphology; 
that of its methods of working constitutes physiology, be- 
haviour, and psychology; that of its relations with the 
environment, including-other organisms, constitutes ecology ; 
and that of its development and growth constitutes embry- 
ology and ontogeny. 

The biological mechanisms of reproduction and variation 
proved much harder to define. Their discovery awaited the 
invention of the mfcroscope and the elaboration of scie nt ific 
method, both experimental and statistical. It n?>w app ea rs 
that in almost all organisms, both plant and anima^ t h e 
ftiechanism of self-reproduction is sharply distinct fro m t h at 
of self-maintenance. It may be called the genotypic S y S tem. 


In opposition to the phenotypic system, it is locked away and 
sheltered as far as possible From contact or direct interaction 
with the environment. It consist? of the gene-complex — a 
system of self-reproducing bodies or genes, arranged in a 
definite order in larger bodies called chromosomes, and 
detached in the act of reproduction within a unit of general 
protoplasm (cytoplasm). The chemical behaviour of the 
cytoplasm is determined by the genes, but the gene-complex 
cannot survive and function without an envelope of cyto- 
plasm: the two are interdependent, but with the gene- 
Complex as dominant partner. 

The mechanism of transmissible variation, again in almost 
all organisms, is twofold — mutation or change in intrinsic 
properties of parts of the gene-complex, and recombination 
of already existing mutants to produce new variants. You 
will observe that I expressly refer to transmissible variation. 
One of the notable facts established by modern genetics is 
the non-transmissibility of certain types of variation. Only 
those in the gene-complex of the reproductive cells are per- 
manently transmissible: those affecting all other parts of the 
organism are not. Non-transmissible variance includes all 
so-called somatic variation — variations in the character of 
the individual body, whether occurring in the course of 
normal development (as in the differentiation of various 
tissues from the relatively undifferentiated ovum, spore, or 
other reproductive body, or in the alternation of generations 
in a moss or a fern); or induced by changes in the environ- 
ment (as in the sun-tanning of white human beings, or the 
production of worker bees by a restricted diet) ; or the result 
of individual experience (as in the learning by solitary wasps 
of the location of their burrows, or by birds of the nauseous 
or dangerous properties of warningly coloured insects). 

The two later categories of variation embrace all so-called 
"acquired characters", so that the proof of their non- 
transmissibi^itjr is a disproof of Lamarckism and all other 
similar theories of evolution. The first ^category, however, 
must be characterized as reproducible but genetically non- 
transmissible. The distinction between transmissible and 
non-transmissible variation coincides almost exactly with the 
earlier distinction made by Weismann between girm-plasm 


and soma. Though Weismann's original formulation needs 
to be slightly modified in the light of later knowledge, the 
opposition between germ-rjlasm and sopia is still basic to all 
our genetic thinking. Some parts of the organism — in higher 
animals all the somatic tissues — are debarred from playing 
any role in reproduction, and variations in them cannot be 
tAnsmitted; other parts — the gene-complexes of actual or 
potential reproductive cells — are the organs of heredity, and 
variations in them can be and are transmitted to later 
generations. 1 * 

Thus in the light of modern biology, variations fall into 
the two opposed categories of genetic and non-genetic. 
Furthermore, we can distinguish sharply between the mech- 
anism # of maintenance — the soma, including not only the 
living somatic cells but also their non-living products such 
as horn or chitin; and the mechanism of transmission — 
the germ-plasm, or more specifically the gene-complex or 
genetic system in the reproductive cells. 

However, the sharpness of the distinction tends to break 
down in the simplest organisms, such as the bacteria, where 
the germ-plasm is much less cut off from contact with the 
environment; or the crystallizable viruses, which are in a 
sense nothing but germ-plasm, and whose "soma" is pro- 
vided by the tissues of their host. 

The greatest present handicap to the science of man would 
stem to lie in its lack of agreement in defining the objects of 
study in the three members of the interlocking trinity of its 

The third member, the course* of psycho-socfel trans- 
formation, I shall discuss later. As regards the mechanism 
for maintaining psycho-social existence, there is by no means 
agreement as to what should be analysed. This somewhat 
startling fact erflerges clearly from works such as Bidney's 
Theoretical Anthropology. Some anthropologists say society, 

1 In this discussion I have neglected the plasmagenes, or se^f-reproducing 
cytoplasmic factors in herldity. Plasmagenes do exist, notably in plants, but 
they are few in number and small in importance compared witR the nuclear 
genes, and furthermore are often subordinated to them in their effects. For 
out purpose they thus constitute a minor and subordinate fraction of the 
germ-plasm. • 

c 65 


others culture, still others the individuals who make up the 
society or share thp culture: and within each sect there is 
still a cleavage between the materialists and the mentalists 
(if I may coin \ word) — between those who insist on a purely 
or mainly materialist! interpretation of everything, and those 
who want to explain human affairs solely or primarily in 
psychological terms. There is not even agreement on the 
definition of culture^ that central anthropological concept: 
some anthropologists maintain that culture is an abstraction, 
others that it is the sum of human activities, or of the 
patterns of human behaviour within a given society, still 
others that it includes all "artifacts, socifacts, and menti- 
facts", to use Bidney's convenient terms for the different 
types of products of a culture or human society. 1 # 

A further confusion arises owing to two radical differences 
between psychosocial and biological evolution- 1 — first, the 
lack of any sharp distinction in the psycho-social sector 
between soma and germ-plasm ; secondly, the presence of an 
increasing trend toward convergence superimposed upon that 
toward divergence. Culture, in the objectively definable sense 
which seems natural to a biologist, is at one and the same 
time both soma and germ-plasm, both a mechanism of main- 
tenance and a mechanism of reproduction or transmission. 
This statement needs some minor qualifications : for instance, 
the system of material production is more concerned with 
maintenance, the educational system more with transmission. 

1 In some ways the situation in anthropology recalls that of biology some 
fifty years back. Then we had the protagonists of comparative morphology 
contending with those of physiological analysis; the violent (but as it turned 
out unreal) quarrel between the biometrician r gradualists and selectionists and 
the mendelian mutationists and anti-selectionists, the dispute between the 
ultra-materialistic and the ultra-psychological students of animal behaviour; 
the curious preformationist theories of Bateson; the confusion between genetic 
determinant and character; the last stand of the Lamarckians and the vitalists 
against the advancing regiments of the Mendelians and the mechanists. 

To-day this confusion has been largely abolished, partly by the final disproof 
of certain views, partly owing to the reconciliation of opposing theses in a 
higher synthesis, and partly by a linking-up of separatist movements in a com- 
bined attack on a unified front. We may reasonably hope that anthropology 
will undergo a similar development. 



But the material objects produced and the skills that produce 
them also are directly transmissible (unlike the metabolic 
products and activities of tjie animal soma) ; and the know- 
ledge and attitudes transmitted by education are also directly 
concerned with the maintenance of culture and the body 
politic (unlike the germ-plasm securely tucked away within 
the body organic). 

This union of somatic and germinal functions'in culture is 
another consequence of the new evolutionary mechanism 
available to life in the psycho-social phase — the mechanism 
of cultural tradition based on cumulative experience. This # 
follows from the fact that cultural tradition depends on com- 
munication. Since communication occurs both extensively, 
in space, between contemporary members of a culture, and 
progressively, in time, between individuals of different 
generation^, tradition and the culture arising from it inevit- 
ably combine maintenance and transmission functions — in 
other words, serve both as psycho-social soma and germ- 
plasm. Furthermore, transmission may occur by diffusion of 
various sorts between cultures, as well as within single 
streams of culture. 

The new basis and mode of transmission and transforma- 
tion available to psycho-social evolution has also important 
consequences for its course, notably in leading to converg- 
ence. Man differs radically from all preceding successful 
t^jpes in not having diverged into numerous biologically 
separate species and lineages. An incipient divergence, based 
doubtless on geographical isolation, permitted the differ- 
entiation of Homo sapiens into what in biology would be 
called subspecies — the races of mankind, each physiologic- 
ally adapted to its geographical habitat. But since most 
human adaptation and improvement is cultural, genetic 
divergence did not proceed further, and was soon overtaken 
by the effects of genetic convergence, as man's expansive or 
migratory urges brought previously isolated populations 
into contact. Biologically, modern man has thus^ remained 
one species, a single interbreeding group. 

However, the two complementary processes, of evolu- 
tionary divergence by increase of variety, and of evolutionary 
advance marked by improvement in general organization 

6 7 


and leading to the emergence of new successful types, con- 
tinued to take effect in the psycho-social sector, but in the 
domain of culture. As in the biolpgical phase, major advance 
proceeds by large steps, each marked by the spread of the 
successful new type' of organization. Among obvious ex- 
amples are the discovery and spread of agriculture, of urban* 
civilization, of alphabetic writing, of monotheism, and of 
science and'scientific method. 

The complementary process of divergent cultural evolu- 
tion has always been a striking feature of man's history, and 
•was markedly accentuated in its later stag'es, after the 
advance to the level of urban civilization. We need only 
think of the range and variety of cultures in the ancient 
world — Sumerian, Egyptian, Indus Valley, Hittite, .Assyr- 
ian, Phoenician, and the rest. On the other hand, the same 
unique trend toward convergence after divergence, seen in 
the genetic make-up of man, operated also in his cultural 
evolution: the main difference is that a much greater degree 
of cultural than of biological divergence took place, and that 
the degree of unity produced by cultural convergence is still 
far below that reached on the genetic level. Whereas bio- 
logical convergence must be achieved by physical inter- 
breeding of divergent types, cultural convergence operates 
by various forms of culture-contact and diffusion. 

With this preliminary clearing of the air we are now in a 
position to analyse cultural evolution in more detail. I mtfet 
first justify the view that what evolves in the psycho-social 
phase is c not primarily the genetic nature of man, or indi- 
viduals, or society, or minds-in-society, but a new supra- 
organismic entity, demanding an appellation of its own. 
Culture is the appellation by which anthropologists denote 
this central subject of their science. 

Culture, if I understand it aright, is a shared or shareable 
body of material, mental, and social constructions ("artifacts, 
mentifacts, 4 and socifacts") created by human individuals 
living in a society, but with characteristics not simply explic- 
able by br directly deducible from a knowledge of the 
psychological or physiological properties of human indi- 
viduals, any more than the characteristics of life are simply 
explicable by or directly deducible from a knowledge of the 

68 ■ 


chemical and physical properties of inorganic matter, or 
those of mind from a knowledge of the prpperties of neurons. 
Culture has a material ba^js, in the shape of resources of 
food, raw materials, and energy; but thougji the quantity 
and quality of material resources availible will influence or 
•condition the character and development of a culture, they 
do not determine it in detail, so that differences between 
cultures are no more explicable by or deducible from a 
knowledge of their material basis than from that of their 
psychological basis in the minds of individuals. 

In describing and analysing a culture, we thus need to 
distinguish a number of distinct components. First, the 
material or resource basis : secondly, the basis of communica- 
tion on language; thirdly, skills and techniques, including 
tools and machines, dress and adornment, buildings and 
vehicles, aftd works of art; then systems of social organiza- 
tion, including kinship and marriage systems, legal, political, 
economic and administrative systems, and status systems 
such as class and caste; then knowledge systems, including 
education, science, and higher learning; and finally attitude 
systems, ranging from manners to religions, and including 
personal and social ethics, tabus, and rituals. 

But the mass enumeration of cultural components is 
obviously not enough. We must also undertake the analysis 
of culture as a self-operating and self-reproducing system. 
I fere, the best method of approach would seem to be the 
functional one, analogous to the broadly physiological ap- 
proach in biology. How does a culture work? What opera- 
tions and functions must it perform* and how and with what 
organs does it do so? The chief alternative is the structural 
or morphological approach, analogous to the method of 
comparative anatomy in zoology. This is obviously useful as 
a first step, but # can and should be incorporated in a broad 
functional analysis. It is dangerous when utilized to the 
exclusion of the functional approach, or as dominant to it. 

The dangers of o^er-emphasis on the structural approach 
are evidenced by the history of zoology. As Radf wrote in 
his History of Biological Theories (1930), many zoologists in 
the late nineteenth century were so busy comparing one 
structure Vith another that they forgot to ask what the 

- 69 


structures were or did. The first effect was the growth of a 
forest of largely hypothetical (and we may add also largely 
sterile) family trees; the seconc^ was a compensatory over- 
reaction in favour of physiology and experimental analysis. 
The next step was an* attempt at reconciling purely structural 
anatomy with purely experimental physiology in the concept 1 
of the organism as a working or functional whole ; and tne 
final result 'has been the development of an all-round ap- 
proach (as evidenced, for instance, in J. Z. Young's recent 
The Life of Vertebrates), in which comparative anatomy, 
though still basic, is treated functionally, physiology has 
become broadly contparative, and both have been combined 
in an ecological-evolutionary approach. 

I feel sure that a similar synthesis or reconciliation will 
take place in anthropology, though the details of the process 
will be different — for instance, the comparative anatomy 
of structural patterns is much easier to study in zoology 
than in anthropology, while the reverse is often true for the 
analysis of function. 

Let me now return to the problem of culture and its 
investigation. Culture in the broad objective view appears 
sub specie evolutionis as a self-maintaining system or organ- 
ization of intercommunicating human beings and their 
products, or if we wish to be a little more precise, of the 
results of the intercommunication of the minds of human 
individuals in society. 

Though a culture thus depends on individual human 
beings and their psychological activities, its characteristics, 
as I have already emphasized, cannot be deduced from 
theirs. The intrinsic (genetic) psycho-physical properties of 
the human population of a society, and the intrinsic peculiar- 
ities of single individuals within it, can and do to some 
extent condition the form and developmenl of the culture, 
but do not determine it. In fact the boot is on the other foot, 
or at least the emphasis is the other way round : the effective 
(or in biol6gical parlance the phenotypic) characterization 
and achievements of human beings in a society are to a very 
large extent the result of the pattern of culture in which the 
human individuals live and the cultural forces which ptoy 
upon them. 



The studies of Kroeber on genius have shown that 
geniuses appear — in other words, that • exceptionally gifted 
individuals are able to resize their talents effectively — not 
at a constant or even approximately constant rate in time, 
nor with a uniform extension in different areas, but in bursts; 
apd that these bursts are related to the stage of development 
of the culture into which the potential geniuses are born. 

Ogburn and Thomas have demonstrated that the pro- 
gress of scientific discovery shows § a somewhat similar 
phenomenon: outstanding discoveries and inventions are 
often and perhaps usually made independently by more than* 
one man at about the same date. Here again the determining 
factor is the stage and type of cultural development. 

This fact of multiple independent discovery is of course 
only a special, though outstanding, feature of what many 
thinkers have noted — the intrinsic momentum of science. 
Once a science has reached the stage of having a coherent 
theoretical basis, it will inevitably proceed (provided it is 
not discouraged by authority) to make further discoveries 
and further extensions of its theory. Tt becomes, in fact, a 
quasi-autonomous cultural entity, an organization of facts, 
ideas, and practices which is bound to progress until it has 
exhausted its possibilities — in other words, has realized the 
implications of its theoretical basis. 

Analogous phenomena are found in other cultural fields; 
fbr instance, the localized outbursts of masterpieces and the 
deterministic trends of style in the arts, as in ancient Greek 
sculpture, or in European painting since the Renaissance; 
the development of Christian tKeology during the first 
millennium a.d., and of scholastic philosophy during the 

Indeed, this intrinsic momentum appears to be a general 
property of all cultural organs involving creative thought or 
activity. It results in trends of cultural evolution. These 
resemble in an interesting way the trends of improvement 
to be seen in biological evolution : both types oT trend con- 
tinue in the same general direction for a considerable period 
of time, until they reach a limit of some sort, when they 
ttecome stabilized (and often enfeebled, reduced or ex- 



The limit, when the biological or cultural system has 
"exhausted its capacities for development", "fully realized 
its possibilities", or however else jve may describe it, may be 
determined eitker intrinsically, by the very nature of the 
evolving system or faculty, or extrinsically, through the 
interference of some other system, or by the operation <jf 
external forces. In biology we have examples of these diff- 
erent types bf limits, in the limitation of visual acuity by 
minimum size of visyal cells; of size and intelligence in 
insects by their tracheal system ; and of accuracy of tempera- 
ture-regulation in mammals by the efficacy of the forces of 
natural selection. I leJve it to my anthropological colleagues 
to find comparable examples in cultural evolution. 

I must add an important caveat. Some "culturologists" 
and some believers in economic or social determination 
maintain that individuals as such play no part in "moulding 
human history, but are wholly moved by superorganic social 
and cultural forces. However, while it is clear that the "great 
man" theories, according to which single individuals are 
responsible for all or most of the decisive advances and 
regressions, turns and twists of history, cannot possibly be 
upheld, neither can the extreme opposite view. 1 

It is one of the uniquenesses of man that in him the broad 
trend toward individuation and the greater importance of 
the individual organism and the individual event, which 
characterizes evolution in general, has reached and passed & 
critical point. In the inorganic phase, differences between 
individual atoms and molecules are submerged in the statis- 
tical behaviour of aggregates. In biology, individual events 
such as mutations produce the differences between individual 
genes which provide the basis for- evolutionary improve- 
ment; and in higher animals, notably birds ( and mammals, 
selection operates largely on the differences between the 
highly individuated single organisms within a species, though 
the operation is still on a statistical basis. But in man, 
individual differences are no longer wKolly submerged in 

1 Even Plekhanov (The Role of the Individual in History, International 
Publishers, New York, 1946), while upholding cultural determinism in 
general ("For a great man, the general character of his epoch is 'empirically 
given necessity' ")» admits the importance of the exceptional individual. 



statistical processes, and the behaviour of single individuals 
may affect the course of psycho-social ev^ution. Thus, while 
the Mongols would assuredly have become an important 
organized power in the Middle Ages' the .extent of that 
power would certainly have been less and its form different 
.if it ha$l not been for Genghiz Khan; and similar considera- 
tiftns apply to the influence of Napoleon on the development 
of post-revolutionary France. 

The importance of individuals is perhaps most clearly 
evident in the arts, for it is of the essence of a great work of 
art that it shcfuld be individually unique. In Italian painting, . 
for instance, while inescapable culturaUforces were influenc- 
ing a high percentage of talented men to become artists, and 
were producing overall trends of style, it is the masterpieces 
of individuals which have been of decisive value for man and 
his cultural evolution. Although in a different culture, such 
as that of modern America or Russia, Giotto and Titian, 
Michelangelo and Leonardo would quite likely not have 
become artists, and would certainly have painted quite 
different kinds of pictures, the fact remains that if these 
particular individuals had not existed, not only would the 
world be a poorer place, but the history of art would have 
been different. 

Since scientific discovery is a cumulative process, and 
since it concerns objective fact, the distinctive role of indi- 
viduals is not so marked in the sciences as it is in the arts, and 
simultaneous discovery is not infrequent. All the same, it 
is impossible to believe that the advance of science would have 
been so speedy, or indeed quite the same, without inflividuals 
like Newton or Einstein, Even where independent or simul- 
taneous discovery has occurred, the actual contribution or 
effect of one individual may be much greater than that of the 
others. Thus Wallace hit on the theory of evolution by 
means of natural selection independently of Darwin ; yet we 
can be certain that the advance of biology into its evolu- 
tionary stage woulcthave been both slower and? different if 
Darwin had not existed. 

An example which illustrates both aspects of the relation 
between individual and culture is that of particulate inherit- 
ance'. As is well known, Mendel discovered and published 

c 73 


the basic facts of this and established its elementary laws. 
But the development of science as a cultural process was 
apparently not ripe for their acceptance, and his discovery 
remained ignqred until it was Ve-made independently by 
three workers thirty-four years later. Only after this did 
Mendel become recognized as the founder of the science of« 
genetics. 1 

Here I must make a brief methodological divagation. The 
method of approach to any scientific problem is clearly of 
extreme importance, and will to a large extent determine the 
. type of discovery made. Putting the matter the other way 
round, the method af approach is itself largely dictated by 
the type of answer you want to obtain : it is, in fact, a kind of 
question. Furthermore, the question will alter with tipie and 
the progress of discovery: when one method has yielded the 
main crop of answers that it could be expected to* provide, it 
is time to ask another kind of question, by adopting a new 
method. A biologist cannot suggest methods for anthro- 
pology to practise. What he can do, however, is to summarize 
the various methods of approach adopted in biology, in the 
hope that anthropologists may be able to discover implica- 
tions helpful for their own science. 

The original approach inevitably was descriptive: bio- 
logists set out to describe as fully and accurately as possible 
the variety of organisms and the phenomena which they 
exhibit. This approach is designed to answer the basic 
question, What are the facts? 

The descriptive approach was soon supplemented by the 
comparative. This was first focused round the question of 
grouping or classification. What pattern or system of char- 
acters does an assemblage of organisms have in common; 
and what distinct types are there at various levels of char- 
acterization? This led to the classification ot organisms in a 
hierarchical system of groups — species grouped in genera, 
genera in families, families in orders, orders in classes, 
and so on. * e 

Implicit in such a system was the idea of physical relation- 
ship. With the acceptance of the fact of evolution, this 
implicit postulate became explicit, and the question posed by 
the comparative method became correspondingly altered; 



behind common patterns, men were reaching for common 
origins. The result was a phylogenetic classification, a classi- 
fication intended to cxpre^p evolutionary descent and rela- 
tionships rather than just a convenient pigeon-holing system. 
The animals placed in the order Carnivora, for instance, 
•wjre all presumed to be descended from a single common 
carnivore ancestor, and a common mammalian ancestor was 
postulated for them and all the other orders placed in the 
class Mammalia. t 

However, while common ancestry accounted for the 
shared resemblances of a group, the oroblem of the differ- < 
ences exhibited by its members remaihed. For this, a new 
method of approach was needed, a method which we may 
call that of differential analysis. It asked the question, What 
is the cause of the differences between the members of a 
related gr&up? The method has been most successfully 
(because most easily) employed in analysing the visible 
differences between minor varieties of a single interbreeding 
population and demonstrating that those which were herit- 
able depended on differences in hereditary unit-factors, later 
called genes. The modern science of genetics is built on this, 
the mendelian method, of analysing after crossing. 

When the different forms are populations inhabiting geo- 
graphically different areas, such as two geographical races 
or subspecies of one species, extrinsic factors also must be 
talken into account. In such cases it is found that their differ- 
ences, though due genetically to differences in their intrinsic 
genie make-up, also have a historical component, which is 
correlated with the geographical or 'ecological difference in 
their habitats, and with the degree and duration of biological 
isolation between them. .The differences are thus the result 
of an evolutionary process of divergence requiring time. 

Finally, when the different forms cannot be interbred to 
yield a fertile cross, as occurs between different species or 
higher taxonomic categories, the genie factors involved in 
producing the diffft-ence cannot be experimentally dis- 
■ covered, and can be only partially deduced through analogy 
and other comparative procedures. In such cases, where 
e^erimental crossing is impossible and the number of 
causative Tactor-differences is large, special methods of 



multi-variate analysis may be needed to give satisfactory 
results. 1 r 

However, there are limits to tjie usefulness of such differ- 
ential analytic r methods. Mendelian analysis, for instance, 
tells us that a difference^ say in flower-colour between two 
varieties of plant, is due to a difference between two genetic* 
factors or genes. 2 But it tells us nothing, or at least nothing 
worth knowing, about what the genes are> or of how they 
work. To obtain answers to such questions we must utilize 
other methods of approach — constitutive as well as differ- 
ential, integrative as well as analytic. By constitutive I mean 
an approach involving questions as to the constitution or 
nature of what is being investigated; and by integrative I 
mean one which attempts to comprehend the interrelation- 
ships and total pattern of a system of analytically detectable 
components. • 

In regard to genes, constitutive inquiry has already shown 
that they are portions of chromosomes, that they consist of a 
certain kind of nucleic acid in association with proteins, and 
possess a molecular structure permitting binary multiplica- 
tion by self-copying. And the integrative approach has led 
to the concept of the gene-complex, a system of interrelated 
units with mutually adjusted interactions. For the problems 
of complex yet unitary patterns, Gestalt and other similar 
approaches are required, and non-quantitative mathematical 
formulations of patterned systems are being attempted. ' 

The constitutive approach soon demands vectorial dia- 
chronic enlargement, by the addition of a directed time- 
dimension. We then ask questions about processes — how 
does a given initial state of things become converted in time 
into a different state? In genetics, for instance, we try to 
unite gene and character by considering them as the end- 
points of a single chemical and physiologicaf process or chain 
of processes — and in micro-organisms are already meeting 
with considerable success. 

Similarly, once we have introduced a •historical component 
into our *study of differences between taxonomic groups 
(subspecies, species, and higher categories) and have arrived 

1 See, e.g., C. P. Stroud, 1953, Systematic Zoology (Washington), a, p. ?6. 

2 Strictly speaking, two alleles, or forms of one kind of gene? 



at the conclusion that evolutionary divergence has been at 
work, we are inevitably impelled to ask what trends are 
involved, what is their shjLpe and their direction, how do 
they operate, and how do they produce <heir observed 
results? This approach, in the hands of men like Simpson 
ayd Ford, Mayr and Dobzhansky, is already giving us inter- 
esting answers in terms of the effects'of natural selection in 
different circumstances — adaptive improvemenf, minor non- 
adaptive diversification, trends of specialization, parallel 
evolution, limits to improvement, stabilization, and so forth, 
so that we are beginning to work out a science of evolution-* 
ary process. 9 

The evolutionary biologist, fortunate in the more mature 
stage of development which his science has reached, may 
perhaps be permitted to suggest some lines of study to the 
anthropologist. In the first place, an evolutionary approach 
seems to me essential. We shall never fully understand 
human culture unless we look at it as a portion of the evolu- 
tionary process — both a product of past evolution and a basis 
for possible future evolution. 

The evolutionary approach in anthropology has been 
bedevilled by false starts and false premises — notably the 
erroneous idea that biological evolution could be represented 
by a single straight line of inevitable progress, and the 
Comtian conversion of this into an evolutionary straitjacket 
for culture. 

When anthropologists realize the fact that evolution 
always involves divergence as well as advance, stabilization 
as well as improvement, and when they have reached a fuller 
understanding of the mechanisms of cultural maintenance, 
transmission, and transformation, we may reasonably fore- 
cast a broadly similar course for anthropology, including the 
prospect of an eventual triumphant synthesis. 

If anthropology is a science, then for anthropologists 
culture must be defined, not philosophically or ^metaphysic- 
ally, nor as an absfl-action, nor in purely subjective terms, 
but as something which can be investigated by tRe methods 
of scientific inquiry, a phenomenal process occurring in space 
aftid time. The process has mental (subjective) as well as 
material {objective) components, but both of these can be 



studied naturalistically. As a naturalistic and operative entity, 
the culture of a givfen society cannot be understood merely 
as the sum of the behaviour and products of the individuals 
comprised in the society. It is composed of super-individual 
patterned systems of activity, potential as well as actual, all to 
a certain degree integrated in an overall pattern of the*who|p . 

In any scientific attempt to study and understand cultures, 
it is the patterned systems that are important and significant, 
rather than the individual activities in which they issue. 
Thus, in human communication, Cassirer cites de Saussure's 
1 distinction between la langue — the super-individual system 
of grammar and syntax — and la parole — the actual words or 
way of speaking used by particular individuals. We find the 
same distinction in every cultural activity — in law, between 
the legal system of rules and precedents and its specific 
application in particular cases; in art, between a* style and 
the individual works of art produced; in social structure, 
between a system of local government, say, and the actual 
work of local bodies; in science, between a comprehensive 
theory and the mass of phenomena which it ties together; in 
kinship relations, between the theoretical system and the 
way it works out — or does not work out — in everyday life; 
in morality, between the systems of tabus or ethical injunc- 
tions and individual moral actions. 

Further, we observe ihat a cultural pattern-system may be 
either latent or patent, either needing to be deduced from thffe 
individual phenomena or already consciously formulated by 
the culture. As is to be expected a priori, conscious formula- 
tion is a later development. Thus all languages are highly 
complex systems, but it is only late in human development 
that the system is consciously formulated in rules of grammar 
and syntax; and theories of aesthetics do n^t emerge until 
after millennia of the practice of art. Even where some 
conscious intellectual formulation exists ab initio, its extent 
and its precision will in general increase with time. Thus, in 
religion there is the development from flflid and non-rational 
myth to precise and highly rationalized theology; while 
science grows from a mere recognition of empirical regulari- 
ties into an elaborate system of theories and laws capable df 
increasingly precise mathematical formulation. 

78 • 


This increasing patency of cultural pattern-systems in 
psycho-social evolution is analogous to the increasing differ- 
entiation of functional org^pic systems in biological evolution. 
An Amoeba has no visibly differentiated systems of support, 
locomotion, circulation, digestion, conduction, sense-percep- 
tjon, cn* reproduction ; among Metazoa, a separate circulatory 
system did not appear until the Annelid level of organization 
was reached, a temperature-regulating system not before the 
later Mesozoic : sense-organs such a§ eyes and ears show a 
steadily increasing degree of differentiation and precision: 
behaviour-systems become more differentiated (with greatea 
variety of instincts), and at the same tfme more flexible and 
precisely adjustable (with the development of learning cap- 
acity)* But since biological evolution depends essentially on 
the self-reproduction of matter, and cultural evolution on 
that of mfnd, it is inevitable that the differentiation of organic 
functional systems will be manifested in increased material 
specialization, that of cultural systems in increased mental 
specialization — that is to say, increasingly full, precise, and 
conscious formulation. 

With these preliminary considerations out of the way, let 
me try to define and analyse the cultural process a little 
further. A culture consists of the self-reproducing or repro- 
ducible products of the mental activities of a group of human 
individuals living in a society. These can be broadly divided 
fnto artifacts — material objects created for carrying out 
material functions; socifacts — institutions and organizations 
for providing the framework of a social or political unit and 
for maintaining social relations between its members; and 
mentifacts — mental constructions which provide the psycho- 
logical framework of a culture and carry out intellectual, 
aesthetic, spiritual, ethical or other psychological functions. • 

The categories inevitably overlap, since all cultural activi- 
ties have a mental componer r, all artifacts have been shaped 
by mind, all mentifacts have a material basis or^ vehicle, and 
all cultures are emHbdied in societies. Thus a piece of pottery 
may be both a useful artifact and a beautiful* mentifact; 
socifacts like codes of law and morals incorporate much of 
Spiritual and ethical mentifacts; and we all know how the 
intellectual mentifacts we call scientific theories and laws 



become transposed into technological artifacts. Nevertheless, 
the distinction is a useful one. 

A more satisfactory analysis is jjnade possible by changing 
the basis of classification of cultural elements from origin to 
function. In such a teleo-functional view, we perceive that 
every culture has certain components. In the first place, it 
exists in a particular material environment, and has a certain 
material basis. The environment does not determine the 
culture, but does conation and may limit it — for instance, 
through extremes of climate, or the prevalence of debilitating 

Secondly, the mateVial basis, though by no means the sole 
determinant of culture, has a still greater influence : it is not 
possible for a society dependent on hunting or food-gather- 
ing to develop the kind of culture found in agricultural 
peasant societies, or for a pre-scientific society to develop the 
kind of culture found in technological civilizations based on 

Then all cultures are embodied in societies, and all 
societies must have a structure. Cultures therefore must 
include institutions and other social components. The most 
obvious of these are kinship systems, law, armed forces, and 
administration, together with political and economic institu- 
tions on the one hand, codes of manner and social customs 
on the other. Functionally, they may be classified into those 
which subserve the survival and well-being of the social unit 
as such, and those which regulate the personal relations of 
its members. Alternatively, they can be grouped under the 
heads of authority and custom. In addition, there is social 
quantity: the number of people included in a given social 
group, and still more the density «of population, have a 
marked effect on the culture. 

We also have the material components of culture (as 
opposed to its material basis). These include utensils, tools, 
buildings, vehicles, machines, manufactures, and industrial 
products. Functionally they can be classified according to 
the human *needs and desires which they subserve — nourish- 
ment, health, shelter, clothing, enjoyment, adornment, com- 
munication, and so forth. The type of material production 
has repercussions on social organization : thus, industrializa- 



tion has involved the supersession of guilds of artisans by 
trade unions, and the rise of the joint stock company and the 
giant firm or ring. It alsojias had repercussions on thought 
and ideas. 

But before proceeding further I must mention the function 
qf communication. This is fundamental: all culture depends 
on communication between individuals and between genera- 
tions. The basic cultural organ of communication is language, 
so that linguistics must always be a basic branch of anthro- 
pology. Th^ effectiveness of transmission of communication 
is later enhanced by various inventions — writing, thtf 
alphabet, printing, telegraphy, radio.* 

Other methods of communication are provided by symbols, 

drama (including the cinema), painting and sculpture, and 
in spfcciafways by architecture and music. But with these we 
reach the last category of cultural components — those with 
primarily mental or psychological functions, as against 
primarily material or primarily social functions. For while 
language is the medium of communication, the arts provide 
mentifacts— organized constructions of significance to be 
communicated from one human mind to others. Symbols 
like the cross or a national flag have an intermediate function. 
They have a denotative function like words, and can serve in 
the same sort of way as do recognition-markings and other 
releaser patterns in animals; but they can also function as 
vehicles of complex and multiple significance. 

Mentifacts thus serve as the psychological framework of 
culture, the mental organs of man in society. They express 
awareness or experience in various organized ways — aesthetic 
and symbolic as well as intellectual — and communicate and 
transmit these, organizations of experience to others. As 
Pfere Teilhard dc Chardin and others have spoken of the 
noosphere constituted by human culture, as opposed to the 
biosphere of organic life, I have ventured to suggest that their 
function might be trailed noetic, and collectively ^hey would 
then constitute the noosystem. 

Besides symbols and works of art, the noetic components 
flf ^ culture include rituals and formal celebrations, beliefs 
and superstitions, mythology and theology, tradition and 

and still others by the various 



history, philosophy and science. They include the totality of 
accumulated and available factual knowledge as well as the 
organized formulations of knowledge provided by mathe- 
matics and logic?, scientific theories, and philosophical ideas; 
and finally the assumptions and attitudes that characterize 
a culture, including the vitally important epistemotegic^l 
premises on which its thinking is conducted. 

Such an analysis is essentially static. But the biologist is 
driven taview culture historically, as cultural evolution, and 
to see cultural evolution as a part of the evolutionary pro- 
cess as a whole, albeit a special part, with its own peculiar 
methods and results. (3nce we adopt this approach, we cannot 
escape the conclusion that the most important characteristic 
of a culture is what I have called its noosystem — the sum of 
its mentifacts, and the way they are organized. 

Artifacts often give a readier characterization and indeed 
may provide the easiest or, in the case of extinct cultures, the 
only measures of classification: institutions and other soci- 
facts express more simply the physiology of a culture — the 
ways of its social working. But its evolutionary position and 
possibilities are ultimately determined by the quantity and 
quality of its awareness and the modes in which it is 

It is true that a culture may appear as in large measure 
determined by its economic and material basis; or, as by 
Rousseau or in a rather different way by Marx, institutions 
may be regarded as barriers to progress set up by vested 
interests, .which need only be destroyed for an ideal society 
of men to come automatically into being. Yet these again are 
but partial or short-term views. The existing material basis 
and economic organization of a culture depend on the util- 
ization or application of past knowledge. Ag^in, institutions 
and their forms — like a church or a monarchy, a council of 
elders, or a civil service — depend on human ideas and 
beliefs about human nature and about men's relations with 
each other t and with the universe: ancf though they may 
become fossilized or corrupt and impede or resist progress, 
yet even if they were swept away, new institutional embodi- 
ments of human ideas and beliefs would have to be qon- 
structed to serve as the culture's social framework! 



Once more, biological parallels are available. The material 
environment does in large measure determine the characters 
of its organic inhabitants— think of the contrast between the 
faunas of the deep sea and the surface waters, between the 
floras of the sub-arctic, the desert, and the humid tropics, 
furthermore, what an animal type inherits from the past, in 
the way of genetically determined anatomy and physiology 
and behaviour, conditions and limits its cap&cities in the 
present and its potentialities for the future. But the environ- 
mental determination is not complete, as is shown by the 
coexistence of high and low types in the same environments? 
or the evolutionary emergence of qtiite new types in an 
essentially unchanged habitat; and the limitations imposed 
by the framework of genetic structure cannot be transcended 
by abolishing that framework, but only by adaptively altering 
it. Further, comparative anatomy gives only a static picture, 
and comparative physiology only an immediate one. Fuller 
comprehension awaited their synthesis in the concept of 
evolutionary process. 

We can to-day obtain a picture of biological evolution as a 
whole. It is a process of deployment of self-reproducing and 
self-varying matter, directed by the forces of natural selection. 
It involves two main types of change — diversification and 
advance. Diversification connotes an increase of specialized 
variety. Advance connotes a rise in the upper level of organ- 
isation, both of material physiology and of awareness: it 
involves the realization of fuller control or fuller exploitation 
of the resources of the environment, fuller self-regylation or 
independence of its arbitrary or fiostile forces, and an in- 
creasingly comprehensive and increasingly accurate picture 
of its events and operations. From the point of view of life as 
a whole, diversification also represents an advance, for it 
means a fuller and more efficient exploitation of resources in 
favour of a larger and richer biomass. And diversification 
and advance taken together involve the emergence of new or 
fuller realizations df the self-reproducing material of life. 

Biological relativity holds throughout the 'process of 
organic evolution, in that all organisms show adaptation: if 
rtiis # were not so they would have become extinct. Yet this 
temporal^ relatedness of immediate adaptation is in point 



of fact transcended by a more inclusive and dynamic related- 
ness: we must also consider the relation of the organic type 
to the general process of biological evolution — a directional 
relatedness which takes account not only of its position in 
the process, but also of its direction of change, in relation to 
an increased realization of those possibilities of life concerned 
with a fuller awareness and a more effective exploitation of 
the environment. 

In the psycho-social section, the same broad scheme of 
evolutionary relatedness still holds, but the process operates 
with different methods and with different principles of 
action. Once the cumulative transmission of experience was 
available, and accordingly mind as well as matter became 
capable of self-reproduction and self-variation, it was inevit- 
able that evolution would take place overwhelmingly in the 
cultural rather than in the biological sphere, ana with an 
enormous acceleration of tempo; and equally inevitable that 
the noetic or mentifact system would be the most important 
part of evolving cultures. 

With the aid of reason and imagination, cultures build up 
a volume of more or less extensive and more or less organized 
factual knowledge, together with resultant ideas and ways of 
thinking, and a system of more or less coherent and more or 
less conscious beliefs and attitudes, together with resultant 
values and purposes. It is these which constitute the decisive 
long-term factors in cultural evolution. 

In the long run, knowledge is the more important, be- 
cause it conditions and modifies the beliefs and attitudes. 
Knowledge is potential aption and potential control, both in 
the external material world and in the inner world of thought, 
valuation, and belief. 

Cultures, too, all show adaptation : if they jvere not adapt- 
ively related to the business of maintaining themselves in 
their environments they would have become extinct. The 
result is cultural relativism — the fact that no cultural ab- 
solutes can 6e shown to exist, whether ill the cognitive, the 
aesthetic, oV the moral sphere. Insistence on the relativism of 
human values, especially perhaps moral values, has been very 
fashionable in certain circles. Just as the biological relativisift 
of organic adaptation led some biologists to dispute the 



validity of distinguishing higher and lower types of organ- 
ism, and so to deny the possibility of anything which properly 
could be called advance or progress iij biological evolution, 
so the discovery of the cultural relativism ofcmoral and other 
values has led a number of social scientists to dispute the idea 
that one culture can be higher than another, and so to deny 
the very possibility of advance in cultural evolution — in 
other words, of human progress. 

However, as in biology, the adaptive relations subsumed 
under the head of cultural relativism are essentially tem- 
porary or immediate, and are transcended by a more inclusive 
and dynamic evolutionary relatedness* In human evolution, 
however, the properties of the culture (including the speed 
and direction of its change) must be considered in relation 
not only to the effective utilization of its environmental re- 
sources, but also to the satisfying enjoyment, by its individual 
members, of their capacities for experience and achievement, 
for knowing and feeling, willing and acting. The scale of 
culture thus has a dual measure: it is related not only to 
efficiency of exploitation but also to fulfilment of potentiality. 

In a broad view, the overriding importance of knowledge 
and its organization for progressive cultural evolution is 
obvious. It was the capacity for cumulative transmission of 
experience which enabled animals to become men, and per- 
mitted our Pliocene ancestors to pass the critical point 
between biological and psycho-social evolution and to open 
the path toward human evolutionary dominance. All the 
major steps toward greater efficiency of material exploitation 
or of social organization, and toward alleviating or improving 
the human lot, have depended on increase or improvements 
in knowledge of some, sort or other. The improved know- 
ledge may be in the form of skill, as revealed by the slow 
improvement of tool-making techniques in the Lower and 
Middle Paleolithic. Or it may be constituted by an empirical 
discovery, like that of agriculture, which initiated an entirely 
new and higher fevel of cultural organization; or by an 
invention concerned with the transmission of* experience, 
like writing, printing, or radio. Or it may be in the form of 
^n improved organization of knowledge and experience, as in 
ancient Greek philosophy, or in the comprehensive world- 




picture organized by Christian theology. Or it may be pure 
scientific discovery with immediate applications, like the 
discovery of bacteria and its application to the treatment of 
infectious disease; or pure scientific discovery without im- 
mediate practical application, but with an effect on man's 
world-picture and his view of destiny, like the discovery of 
the fact and mechanism of evolution. Or, finally, it may be 
in the form of a new and improved organization of assump- 
tions and methods of approach, as in the adoption of scientific 
method in field after field of inquiry during the past three 
centuries, with simultaneous abandonment of magical 
assumptions or explanations in supernatural terms. 

Of these advances, the most important for cultural evolu- 
tion are those which open up possibilities of quite new modes 
of material existence; which provide radical improvements 
in the mechanism of cultural transmission ; which alter man's 
general approach to the intellectual and practical problems 
of life; and above all those which lead to a new picture or 
model of human destiny. The effectiveness of such organiza- 
tions of knowledge can be estimated by the degree to which 
they lead to the emergence of new types of cultural organiza- 
tion, comparable to new dominant types in biological evolu- 
tion, which spread and increase at the expense of previous 
types. Examples are afforded by the spread of neolithic 
culture (based on agriculture), of civilization or urban culture 
(based on writing and division of labour), of Christian and 
Islamic culture (based on new pictures of human destiny), 
and, in recent centuries, of industrial and technological 
culture (based on scientific method in the natural sciences). 

Those which involve a new picture of human destiny are 
the most comprehensive, and may include elements of all 
the others. They are, in fact, the true noeti^ microscosms, 
and their importance can be estimated in terms of their 
relatedness to the overall process of reality. The more fully 
and the more accurately they internalize the evolutionary 
process, the more effective will they be, In the long run, as 
systems of potential action. 

From this angle, the most important single step in cultural 
advance is that which we are now in process of taking — the? 
application of scientific method to the problem 6f man's 



evolutionary possibilities. To start with, it markedly changes 
the directedness of culture, and may even reverse the sign 
of that directedness. Most noetic systems consciously or un- 
consciously look backward, are based on traditional authority 
or on a nostalgic belief in a prior "Golden Age or state 
of perfection, and the cultures built on them are accord- 
ingly in large measure resistant to change, and especially 
to the idea of change. A few noetic systems have looked 
forward instead of backward, but usually to some millenary 
and final fulfilment. In so far as Imperial Rome had a 
conscious £oal besides that of increased power, it was t(j 
impose the Pax Romana and the efficient Roman system 
on the rest of the world. Soviet Communism deliberately 
proclaims the classless socialist State as its inevitable mil- 
lennial goal. But in so far as the goal is a final one, it limits 
and distorts the process of cultural change by imposing 
on it both the myth of an ideal but static end-state, and the 
dogma of authoritative truth. In Marxist Communism we 
can see clearly how the myth of an ideal final state has 
taken the place of the salvation myths of earlier religions, and 
how the authoritarianism of Marxist doctrine can impede 
scientific and cultural freedom just as much as the Church 
ever did in the past. 

The scientific method of acquiring truth and knowledge 
is free from these objections, since it explicitly recognizes 
that man's knowledge can never be complete or his truths 
absolute. But it does enable man to discover more knowledge 
and to arrive at a fuller approximation to truth, and so at 
once introduces a positive vectoHal component* into any 
culture which practises it. However, so lon^ as it is applied 
in a limited field (for instance only in the natural sciences), or 
is still liable to be overridden by dogmatic authority (as in 
Soviet biology in recent decades), it has no more than partial 
importance. Only when a forwardly directed, dynamic ideal 
of cultural advance is combined with scientific method, or 
— what comes to the same thing — when scientific method is 
consciously adopted and prosecuted in all fields of human 
endeavour, only then can the noetic system begin to be a 
fcrue microcosm, only then will cultural relativism become 
transcended by a more comprehensive relatedness, and 



cultural change begin to adapt itself adequately to the overall 
evolutionary process of greater realization of inherent 

The capacity, for the cumulative transmission of experi- 
ence marked a critical point in the evolutionary process — 
the passage from a biological to a cultural mode of evolution. 
The attainment of a correctly related noetic system will 
mean the passage of a critical point within the process of 
cultural evolution — from the proto-cultural to the full cul- 
tural phase, from mafniy unconscious evolution to change 
^consciously directed. And just as the passage of the former 
critical point permitted the emergence of man as a new 
dominant type, the psycho-social type, within evolution as a 
whole, so the passage of the latter will permit the emergence 
of a new and dominant pattern of organization within the 
psycho-social process, and will enable the huma** type to 
fulfil itself by relating its modes of change to its inherent 
possibilities. It will permit the full humanization of man. 

But I must not soar too far up into the clouds : the noo- 
sphere has its earthly base, which it quits at its peril. I will 
conclude with a re-statement (illuminated, I hope, by the 
foregoing analysis) of the evolutionist's view of human 

Biological and cultural evolution resemble each other in 
both showing a combination of two major trends, one to 
differentiation or divergence, the other to improvement on- 
advance. In addition, cultural evolution shows a trend which 
is almost absent in animal evolution — toward convergence 
and consequently toward an eventual unity superimposed 
upon diversity. Both of thfese trends are subject to limitations, 
and in point of fact frequently reach fjnal limits. In biological 
evolution, the amount of divergence possible to a group such 
as the teleost fish or the birds is limited b^ the variety of 
habitats or ecobiological niches which are available to their 
type of structural or physiological organization. It is, for 
instance, impossible for teleost fish to produce a type 
adapted to terrestrial desert existence, and equally impossible 
for birds to increase their variety by colonizing the deep sea. 

Occasionally, however, a biological lineage finds its way 
out of its limitations and up to a new level of organization. 



Such major steps in advance are recognizable ex post factor 
by the emergence of the lineage as a new dominant type, 
which demonstrates its dominance by its rapid development 
into a new fanning-out or combined^ divergence and im- 
provement. This did not occur among either birds or teleost 
figh: they both appear to be incapable of breaking through 
their organizational limitations. It did occur, however, among 
body fish as a whole, when one lungfish-like linkage evolved 
to the amphibian level of organization capable of terrestrial 
life; even more strikingly, it occurred among the Reptiles, 
when one lineage of one of the numerous major divergent* 
types of the reptilian radiation gave rise to the new dominant 
type we call the Mammalia. The other reptile lineages, 
though diverging to produce types as strikingly different as 
snakes and dinosaurs, tortoises and crocodiles, flying ptero- 
dactyls arid whale-like ichthyosaurs, all remained on the 
reptilian level of organization, and have either become 
extinct or have persisted on that level up to the present. 

Biological classification aims at reflecting the facts of 
biological evolution. It is often assumed by zoologists that 
it does so by distinguishing groups according to their 
ancestry. Each taxonomic group, according to this view, is 
distinguishable because it is descended from one ancestral 
lineage. Thus, all species of weasels and stoats are pigeon- 
holed together in the genus Mustela because they are all 
descended from a single weasel-like ancestor; all families of 
carnivores are pigeon-holed in the order Carnivora because 
even such divergent creatures as seals, tigers, b^ars, and 
weasels are all decended from a single proto-carnivore 
lineage; all orders of mammals in the class Mammalia 
because their universal possession of hair, milk, and warm- 
blood is only ccynprehensible if they are all descended from 
a single proto-mammalian lineage with these properties. 

Recently, however, it is becoming apparent that these 
taxonomic assumptions are fully valid only for a classification 
concerned with evolutionary divergence. Others are needed 
for a classification which also takes account of evolutionary 
advance. Thus G. G. Simpson in his Meaning of Evolution 
sflates that the latest and dominant group of bony fish "called 
Teleostei'in formal classification", is "apparently a struc- 



tural (and functional) grade" independently evolved by 
several lines; and this parallel evolution of improvements 
appears to be a common feature in smaller-scale deploy- 
ments, like thai of thp horse family (Equidae). 

Actually, the idea of a common grade of improvement in 
place or in addition to that of a common ancestry is implicit 
in much taxonomic practice. Thus from the strict common- 
ancestry poiht of view, birds and mammals are parts of the 
great reptilian radiation, and should be classed as orders on 
a par with other reptilian orders like Crocodiles or Dino- 
saurs. However, they both developed such outstanding 
improvements in general organization that they became new 
dominant groups more varied and more abundant than any 
reptilian order — the birds primarily in the air and the 
mammals primarily on the land. For this reason, they are 
called classes, with new orders as their major subdivisions. 
Both are actually monophyletic groups; but whereas this 
fact of common ancestry is the basis of our classification of 
other products of the reptilian radiation, in their case the 
decisive factor is advance to a new level of organization. 
Aves and Mammalia are grade labels as well as ancestry labels. 

Sometimes, indeed, our taxonomy designates only grades. 
This would be so for teleost fish if Simpson's views are 
confirmed. It was once so for the subkingdom Metazoa, 
originally intended to cover all multicellular animals. Later, 
however, when it became clear that sponges had evolved 
independently to the multicellular level, the zealots for 
ancestry % classification placed them in a new subkingdom, 
the Parazoa, leaving Metazoa as a combined grade and 
ancestry label for the rest of the multicellular animals. 

I personally would like to see a new, evolutionary classi- 
fication, which would combine the advance and ancestry 
principles. We would then hzvegroups l of common ancestry — 
classes, orders, and other familiar designations, and grades 
of advance^ (advance sometimes independently achieved, 
sometimes in common), for which new* designations would 
be needecf'. Thus, Birds and Mammals would continue to 
rank as two classes, but would be included in a single 

1 CladtSy from the Greek for branches, is perhaps preferable, as more 



grade, which might be called Homotherma, since temperature- 
regulation is their diagnostic improvement. Other obvious 
grade labels for Vertebrates would include terms already in 
use, such as Gnathostomatdtiox forms with jaws, Tetrapoda for 
those with walking limbs, and Amniota for those with a 
orotective "private pond" for the embryo. I would hope that 
Metazoa would be restored to its original use as a grade label, 
and that Man would be placed in a new major* grade, which 
might be called Psychozoa. 

Of course, it is not the labels that are important, but the 
principles and assumptions on which the necessary labelling 
is done. I venture to suggest that the*adoption of a broadly 
similar outlook would permit real progress in anthropology. 
Its assumptions of principle are roughly as follows. Evolu- 
tion still operates in man, but overwhelmingly as a cultural, 
not a bidlogical process. Cultural (psycho-social) evolution 
shows the same main features as biological evolution. From 
one angle, it shows short-term improvement ("adaptation") 
and long-term improvement ("advance") together with 
some apparently non-adaptive accidental and consequential 
results; from another, it shows divergence (resulting in 
greater variety), advance (resulting in progressive improve- 
ment) and limitation (resulting in stabilization or regression) ; 
and from still another, more comprehensive angle, it reveals 
a succession of dominant types, resulting in progress, as 
ftianifested by a rise in the upper level of achievement and 
an increased realization of possibilities. But finally, cultural 
evolution differs importantly from biological in respect of 
selection and mechanisms of change, of transmission of the 
old and incorporation of the new, of the presence of diffusion 
and a consequent tendency to convergence as against diverg- 
ence, of the immensely increased importance of mind and 
mentifacts, notably the accumulation and better organization 
of knowledge, and in many other ways. 

With such an outlook, the sterile controversies about 
cultural evolution (Sterile because based on misconceptions) 
would be resolved; anthropologists would be able to see 
their subject in the conceptual framework of combined 
divergence, stabilization, extinction, and advance; they 
would refceh a truer and more satisfying picture of cultural 



evolution than those provided by historians and sociologists 
like Spengler, Sorokin, or Toynbee; and they would open 
the door to a scientific theory of human progress, free from 
wish-fulfilment « and over-optimism on the one hand, and 
from captious relativism and over-pessimism on the other. 
By envisaging the problem of acculturation in the world of 
to-day as an inevitable accompaniment of the emergence of a 
new dominart t cultural type, they could bring a new illumina- 
tion to bear upon it; find by reminding politicians and ad- 
ministrators of the value of variety-in-unity — variety of 
•cultural expression within a unitary framework of knowledge, 
ideas, and purpose, (hey could help to minimize the evil 
effects of the process and maximize its desirable results. 
Finally, by insisting on the overriding importance of know- 
ledge and its organization in the form of ideas, assumptions, 
and beliefs, they would ensure that anthropology would 
make a vital contribution to the march of history. By clari- 
fying the role men's ideas of destiny have played during past 
cultural evolution, they would make it easier for man to 
achieve his true destiny in the future. 



Th. huxley played a leading part in the development 
of anthropology. Indeed, the grrat Virchow, speaking 
in England jn 1898, said that his work in this field would 
alone be enough to secure his scientific immortality. * 
His interest in ethnology (as the subject was then gener- 
ally called) grew out of his interest in the general question of 
evolution. Already before 1859, he had satisfied himself of 
the falsity of Owen's statement that the brain of man con- 
tained structures not found in the apes or any lower animal, 
and had concluded that the physical differences between man 
and higher apes were smaller in extent than those between 
the higher apes and the lower monkeys. But with the publi- 
cation of the Origin of Species evolution became a matter of 
acute and embittered controversy, and the relationship of 
man and apes its burning focus. 

The discovery of the Neanderthal skull, and requests from 
Lyell for anatomical help over his book on The Antiquity of 
Man, led Huxley to take an interest in physical anthropology, 
and Mans Place in Nature, published early in 1863, included 
evidence from this field, as well as from that of comparative 
anatomy. # s 

This, his first book, was an important landmark in the 
history of science : it gave an irrefutable demonstration that 
man, physically speaking, must be considered as merely one 
among animal # species, a primate mammal specialized in 
peculiar ways. This was a necessary first step towards a truly 
scientific anthropology, in which all attributes of human life, 
social as well as physical, psychological as well as material, 
are treated as natural phenomena to be studied by the 
methods of science. It made one of the first breaches in the 

# 1 The Huxley Memorial Lecture for 1950, delivered before the Royal 
Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. 



barrier set up by theology and philosophy between man and 
the rest of the universe. 

Huxley continue4 his keen interest in physical anthro- 
pology till the* early '70s. In afldition to various detailed 
papers, he interested himself in a grandiose scheme for 
establishing a collection of photographs of representatives* 
of all the peoples and tribes in the British Empire, and wrote 
an important pioneer paper on the geographical distribution 
of human races or, ^s he wisely called them, "the chief 
modifications of mankind". 

r. If T. H. Huxley did not pay special attention to social 
anthropology, this Ivas partly due to its less advanced 
development and partly to his natural bias as a comparative 
anatomist towards physical anthropology. But he was much 
interested in it, as shown by his address to the Anthropo- 
logical Section of the British Association in 1878. In this, 
he refers to Herbert Spencer's work on sociology; to that 
of Max Mliller and Tylor on the natural history of religions, 
which he calls "one of the most interesting chapters of 
anthropology"; and to Lane Fox's ethnographical museum, 
which he describes as "one of the most extraordinary 
exemplifications that I know of the ingenuity and, at the 
same time, the stupidity of the human race". 

However, his greatest contribution to anthropology was 
the fact that he brought his remarkable mind to bear upon 
it as a single subject, in relation to other subjects of scientific 
study. He saw it, not as a set of separate specialized pro- 
blems, but as part of science as a whole, and was able to help 
materially in integrating ,it into the great scientific move- 
ment of the mid-nineteenth century. 

One of T. H. Huxley's outstanding qualities was his 
encyclopaedism, humanist as well as science. He was not 
merely interested in a vast range of subjects — comparative 
anatomy and German literature, evolution and ethics, paint- 
ing and physiology, embryology and anthropology, educa- 
tion and bif>lical criticism — not only able to illuminate and 
forward eJch and all of them separately but also to help to 
relate them in broader constructions of thought and to distil 
them in more potent syntheses. ■ 

Anthropologists know very well that no human culture or 



society can flourish without the support of some general 
framework of thought, even if the thought be largely tacit 
and its synthesis incomplete. Accordingly I make no apology 
for taking as my subject ouf present need for unifying inter- 
pretation and constructive synthesis. "That need is even 
•greater to-day than in my grandfather's time. This is due 
partly to the increase of specialization, partly to the increase 
in mere bulk of knowledge, and partly to the disruption of 
the background unity still possessed by nineteenth-century 

Specialization has led to the accumulation of vast quanti- 
ties of new knowledge ; but also to the paradoxical result that 
much of that knowledge has cut itself off from any central 
common pool and from cross-fertilizing contacts with other 
currents of thought. Some branches of science and learning 
have shown tendencies towards isolationism and autarkic 
self-sufficiency strangely similar to those shown by various 
nation-states in their economic and cultural affairs. This has 
had its counterpart in education, notably in the compart- 
mentalization of subjects of study at our universities. Wher- 
ever and however manifested, these tendencies act so as to 
sterilize great volumes of knowledge and to impede the 
growth of a common tradition and a common basis for 
human action. 

Next is the increase in the mere amount of factual know- 
ledge available. This has been quite prodigious. We have 
some idea of the quantitative changes in other fields. Thus, 
the growth in area of Greater London since 1914 is about 
the same as its growth between Roitian times and tlfat date: 
demographers tell us, staggeringly enough, that the net 
increase in the world's pgpulation since T. H. Huxley began 
his professional career is roughly the same as the total it had 
achieved in the whole span of human existence on earth up 
to that time. However, no one, so far as I am aware, has 
attempted to make a similar estimate for the increase in the 
number of facts in the world during the same peilod. If they 
were to do so, I anticipate that the result would be ftven more 
staggering. Mountains of facts have been piled up on the 
plains of human ignorance — facts economic and social, facts 
historical #and physical, astronomical and archaeological, 



geological and art-historical, agricultural, chemical, bio- 
logical, geographical, psychological. The result is a glut of 
raw material. Great piles of fact are lying around unutilized, 
or utilized only in an occasional «or partial manner. 

Of course, there has been a great increase also in inter- 
pretative theories and principles in all the separate branches 
of science and learning. But this has not always kept pace 
with the increase of facts ; and, furthermore, there has been 
scarcely any attempt at a synthesis of the specialized theories 
of separate disciplines, in a general interpretation or even in 
a common synoptic view. Our old bottles are bursting or 
have already burst: *we need new containers for the potent 
new vintages now brewing. 

In some ways, the third factor in the present situation, the 
loss of a common background of thought, is the gravest. In 
my grandfather's day there was still some unity of approach. 
Authoritarianism had been decisively defeated in the intel- 
lectual battle. Its defeat left the field in the possession of a 
broadly liberal philosophy, resting on an assumption that 
the scientific method was universally applicable and science 
intrinsically beneficent, on an essentially optimistic concep- 
tion of human nature, on a belief in the necessary validity 
of individual freedom as it appeared to nineteenth-century 
liberalism, and on a half-unconscious faith in civilization and 
its more or less inevitable progress. 

To-day, that unity has disappeared. We have learnt by 
experience the distortions of which civilized human beings 
are capable, the depths to which our boasted human nature 
can sin*. We have witnessed a huge setback to whatever 
progress there may exist. Science has in some quarters come 
to be looked on as an enemy. The scientific method itself 
leads sometimes to uncertainty and apparent irrationality. 
Psycho-analysis has often been misinterpreted to imply the 
depreciation of reason. Wholly new theories of man in 
society have emerged, like Fascism, Nazism, and Marxist 
Communisffn, which seem irreconcilable with each other and 
with any kind of Western liberalism. The very assumption 
that unity is possible is itself in danger of disappearing. 

I would go so far as to say that the lack of a common 
frame of reference, the absence of any unifying set of con- 



cepts and principles, is now, if not the world's major disease, 
at least its most serious symptom. It is particularly obvious 
and particularly serious in the Western world. We of the 
West are confronted by a ,f very real dilemma. We see the 
fragmentation of Western thought into'a series of conflicting 
•and largely irreconcilable tendencies — Science, Roman 
Catholicism, the Welfare State or the Fair Deal, Big Busi- 
ness, the cult of the Common Man, and the rest — in place 
of its synthesis into a harmonious picture and its condensa- 
tion into a common point of view; ancf we contrast this with 
the obvious *and powerful appeal of the coherent point of # 
view provided by Communism in the East. But then we 
recall that Marxist Communism is an authoritarian ortho- 
doxy, yrhose enforcement has already led to many undesir- 
able results — social, political and intellectual — and whose 
continuance is likely to be as disastrous to itself as that of 
any other enforced authoritarianism in the past. 

And so we find ourselves in the apparent dilemma of 
having to choose between an ineffectual chaos of thought on 
the one hand and the suppression of freedom of thought on 
the other. 

But the position, grave though it be, is certainly not hope- 
less. For one thing, civilization has survived equally grave 
crises in the past, human reason has resolved contradictions 
of equal magnitude. For another, the dilemma between 
cKaos and authoritarianism is apparent only. It is possible 
to have voluntary agreement, agreement by persuasion, 
without any other enforcement except that of reality: the 
highest freedom is to understand £nd voluntarily th accept 
the compulsion of the facts. And the present situation is a 
new one, in which new facts and new knowledge are avail- 
able over new fields to an unprecedented extent, and could 
be distilled to provide us with the truth that alone can set 
us free. 

There is no panacea for such a situation. But T do suggest 
that, if we look at the position objectively, as a # problem in 
applied anthropology, and scientifically in the ltght of all 
the relevant knowledge and methods available, we can get 
seme way towards an answer. 

Note that I specify "in the light of all the relevant know- 

d m '97 


ledge available". For whatever the enemies of science may 
say, they cannot gloss over the fact that it has produced a 
steadily growing body of established knowledge, which we 
neglect at our peril. It is no longer possible to secure belief 
in a priori or mythological assumptions about the nature or 
origin of man, any more than it is possible to do so about the 
nature and origin of disease. Man is an organism, although 
a very peculiar one, and his history is a continuation of bio- 
logical evolution, although by new methods. We can in- 
vestigate and describe the properties and potentialities of 
evolving man as we do other natural phenomena, and can 
empirically study the course of evolution, both biological 
and human, as an integral process. 

The conclusion is forced on us that the most important, 
if not the most urgent, task of our times is the development 
of a new set of integrative, directive, and transmissive mech- 
anisms for human societies and for their continuity down the 
generations. These must include systems in which the 
community at large can share, of shared interpretation, 
shared belief and faith, and shared activity. Such general 
terms have different meanings to different people, but it will 
I hope appear as I proceed in what sense I am using them. 
Meanwhile, I will only say that among the minor but press- 
ing needs of to-day is the semantic need for a satisfactory 
and agreed terminology, both for scientific purposes and for 
general use, in the field of — I was going to say sociology, 
and then history, and then social psychology, and then 
political science, but once more the terms are inadequate — 
in the Whole field of human relations, including social 

First of all, the phrase 'integrative (or unitive) mechanisms' 
can often be used to cover mechanisms of transmission also. 
This is not true on the biological level, where integrative 
mechanisms, such as the nervous and endocrine systems, are 
quite distinct from the transmissive mechanisms of the gene- 
complex in 'the chromosomes. But on the human level, parts 
of the integrative mechanism unite men in time as well as 
in space, binding the generations together and providing the 
continuity for all collective existence that is not focused 
impossibly on the present alone. 


Any such mechanism must have its overall framework of 
ideas, its ritual, and its morality of action, its emotional 
driving force. I would use the word Religion for such a 
system, since it is the onty word in common use which 
includes these three connotations, but unfortunately its 
fls^ge has become so restricted to; one particular type of 
unitive system that it is useless as a general term. Alter- 
natively, there is the word ideology. Quite apart from its ugly 
associations with systems of ideas that ^ye know to be forced 
and believe to be false, it has the defect of implying only 
cognitive elements in the system, whereas an integrative 
system, as an organ of society, must always involve emotion, 
action, expression, and will, as well as (or in conjunction 
with) rational thought. In point of fact, however, the systems 
to which the term ideology is usually applied — Fascism, 
National Socialism, and Communism — have all contained 
other than cognitive elements, and I shall employ it, though 
sometimes belief-system and sometimes interpretative system 
will be more useful. But though terminology is important, 
discussion of it here would be both tedious and useless. I 
must hope that my terms will define themselves ambulando 
as I proceed. 

Let me point out at the outset that belief and faith, though 
by their nature they include a non-rational element, need not 
be either irrational or anti-rational, unscientific or anti- 
scfentific. They can perfectly well be coherent with reason 
and with scientifically established fact, and any belief-system 
which is going to be of value in the world of to-day must be 
thus coherent with reason and science, because rationality 
and scientific knowledge are an important part of that world. 
And this implies further that it must not be dogmatic : to be 
coherent with science it must surrender the completeness of 
its certitudes, and with that its own unchangeability. Big 
words with capital letters, like the Absolute and the Eternal, 
must be banished from its vocabulary. 

This is only a heaify-handed way of saying, what ought to 
be self-evident but is usually disregarded or even denied, 
that an ideology or belief-system is conditioned by current 
reality; that it should be congruent with the facts of nature 
and with "established knowledge: and that it should be 

• 99 


flexible and capable of adaptive change and development. 

At the present stage of social evolution, current reality 
includes scientific ideas just as much as it includes political 
structure or technological capacity. The ideology and belief- 
system of peoples who could suppose that death was never 
due to natural causes, who did not know the cause f of 
thunder, and were ignorant why the sun "rises" and "sets", 
were (and indeed in some cases still are!) very different from 
our own. 

Sometimes scientific discovery has had an obvious and 
central effect on ideology. The facts of astronomy, for in- 
stance, have not merely made it impossible to believe certain 
aspects of theology, but have brought a feeling of human 
insignificance which has had various effects on general out- 
look — of late, after the earlier misplaced reverence for 
Natural Law and the assumption that it was the edict of a 
divine law-giver, either pessimism, or a sense of being alien 
to the universe as a whole, or, in reaction against that, an 
intellectual and spiritual isolationism, or the existentialist's 
over-insistence on the individual human self. 

I believe that, by the time its implications have been 
properly grasped, the discovery of evolution is destined to 
have a more revolutionary effect upon ideology than any 
other scientific discovery yet achieved. The effect will also 
be a less depressing, and more constructive one than that of 
astronomical discovery. For evolution bridges the gaps be- 
tween man and animal, between mental and material, and 
between the organic and the inorganic. Evolution shatters 
the presence of human "isolationism and sets man squarely 
in his relation — and a very important relation — with the 
cosmos. It is the most powerfully, integrative of concepts, 
forcibly and inevitably uniting nebulae and human emotions, 
life and its environment, religion and material nature, all into 
a single whole. The facts of evolution, once clearly perceived, 
indicate the position we men should take up and the function 
we are called on to perform in the universe. "Stand there," 
they say, "'and do thus and thus." If we neglect to do as 
they order, we not only do so at our peril but are guilty 
of a dereliction of our cosmic duty. « 
I have no space here to enter on any detailediexposition 



of the facts of evolution. What seems relevant to my present 
purpose can be condensed into a few sentences, but sentences 
pregnant with implications. 

First of all, then, reality-*— in the sense of«the cosmos of 
which we form a part in so far as we have knowledge of it — 
te^lity is a process, and that process is evolution. Biological 
evolution, the development of different forms of animal and 
plant life on this planet, is one small but important aspect of 
this universal process. The process of §volution as we know 
it to-day exists on three distinct levels — the inorganic or 
cosmic, the biological or organic, and the human or psycho- , 
social. • 

Cosmic evolution means the process of change in the stars 
and nebulae, in the inorganic constituents of the cosmos, in 
so far as they are not caught up in the effects of the other 
phases of evolution. These constitute the enormous bulk of 
the whole ; but their changes are slow almost beyond imagina- 
tion, and the complexity of organization arrived at is almost 
infinitely below that produced by organic evolution in any 
familiar animal. 

Here and there in this dragging and apparently meaning- 
less drama of lifeless matter, spots appear in which more 
complicated organizations of matter become possible, some- 
times indeed organizations capable of self-copying and 
therefore alive. The astronomers tell us that we may expect 
ttfet at least a few hundreds of these theatres of life have 
arisen in our own galaxy: but we have knowledge only about 
one — our own earth. 

Living matter does not always copy itself exactly. From 
the basic fact of self-copying and the secondary fact of in- 
accurate copying or muiation, natural selection automatic- 
ally follows; anc^ natural selection is a far more rapid agency 
of change than anything available on the inorganic level. As 
a result of its operation during two thousand million years or 
so, it has in fact produced the organizations we call higher 
animals, which would, if they were not so familTar, stagger 
us by the almost impossible complexity and delicaCy of their 
construction. A dog would be a miracle if it were not just 
oflr familiar Prince or Toby. 

More extraordinary still, it has produced mental as well 

• IOI 


as physical organization. From the study of bacteria or 
amoebae, jellyfish or green plants, we would have no right to 
conclude that they possessed mental attributes: but with an 
ape or a cat or a bird we cannotHavoid this conclusion. Their 
minds are certainly very different from ours, but minds 
they certainly possess. % ' 

Finally, it is possible to detect a trend in biological evolu- 
tion which* deserves to be called progress. Evolutionary 
progress can be defined as improvement of vital organiza- 
tion permitting increase in control over the environment and 
in independence of changes in the environment, together 
with the capacity tor continue evolution further in the same 
general progressive direction. It also involves an increase in 
internal harmony and individuation — the degree to which 
living matter is organized into well-marked and well- 
integrated individuals — an increase in range of knowledge 
(or, more accurately, of the environmental effects which life 
can detect), and finally an increase in mind, an intensification 
of the mental properties of organisms. Biological progress 
would have occurred, as an objective fact, even if man had 
never existed. 

Eventually the stream of evolutionary progress passed a 
second critical point, and a new level of evolution was 
attained. In one out of the million or so animal species, mind 
developed to a stage at which it gave its possessor the power 
for true speech and conceptual thought. The result was m£n. 
With this, a new method of evolutionary change was intro- 
duced — cumulative change in the behaviour and achieve- 
ments of a social group by mentally transmitted tradition, 
instead of change in the potentialities of individuals by 
physically transmitted systems of nucleoproteins. And this 
again immensely speeded up the rate of .the evolutionary 

There is complete continuity between the three phases or 
levels, but yet a critical point between each one and the next, 
after which the process alters in character. 

Evolutton on the human level, although it has been oper- 
ating for the barest fraction of geological time, has already 
produced very extraordinary new results, impossible even' to 
conceive of on the biological level — for exampke, Dante's 

102 • 


Divina Commedia, guided missiles, Picasso's Guernica^ Ein- 
stein's theory of relativity, ritual cannibalism, the Parthenon, 
the Roman Catholic Church, the films of the Marx Brothers, 
modern textile mills, BelseA, and the mystical experiences of 
Buddhist saints. Most extraordinary* in principle, it has 
•generated values. No one can prove that values play a part 
in the process of biological evolution, but no one can deny 
that they do so in human affairs. In lower organisms, the 
only ultimate criterion is survival: but in man some experi- 
ences and actions, some objects and ideas, are valued for 
their own sake. m 

The ideologically most important fact about evolution is 
that the human species is now the spearhead of the evolu- 
tionary process on earth, the only portion of the stuff of 
which our planet is made which is capable of further progress. 
Men are the sole trustees, agents, representatives, embodi- 
ments, or instruments — each word has its merits and de- 
merits — of the only process of progressive evolution with 
which we have any direct concern. 

Man, in fact, is a microcosm — but in a somewhat differ- 
ent sense from that of earlier centuries. He is, as it were, a 
distillation of the universe at large, the macrocosm. The 
picture that he constructs of the universe, including of 
course himself, however distorted and full of gaps it may 
be, is the only representation that exists on this earth of the 
rfiacrocosm as a unit. And the novelties that he produces in 
history, however crude and misdirected some of them have 
been, involve the only large-scale advance of the evolutionary 
process still operating on our planet. There is thtis a new 
categorical imperative that has taken form and voice from 
the facts of post-Darwinian science and humane studies — 
that man's desyny, his duty and privilege in one, is to con- 
tinue in his own person the advance of the cosmic process 
of evolution. 

There is mystery in this: who can prophesy the possi- 
bilities of man's future achievement when we Arc only now 
beginning to understand his present properties and those of 
his natural environment? There is morality: if the highest 
good is not quantitative but qualitative, then population- 
increase at some point becomes a threat, and any opposition 



of principle to birth-control becomes immoral; if cumulative 
knowledge is the necessary foundation for success in coping 
with the problems of life and its improvement, then dogma 
is a threat, and any claim to exclusive possession of the truth 
or to suppression of free enquiry is immoral ; if our destiny 
is to continue this mystery-play of cosmic change down t;he* 
millennia, then improvident exploitation of resources is 
immoral; and so on. 

There are faith and hope — reasoned faith and tempered 
hope, but none the less valuable for that. There is love, for 
, without love of one kind or another — love of beauty, love of 
holiness, love of life and its possibilities, love of other people, 
love of knowledge — we never achieve anything constructive. 
Above all, there is participation — the sense that we are 
participants with the whole cosmos in its and our unbeliev- 
able adventure, so much stranger than anything that wc 
could imagine out of our own heads. 

Some of you may have been thinking that, instead of 
delivering a scientific address, I have been indulging in a 
flight of fancy. It is a flight, but not of mere fancy. It is my 
small personal attempt to share in the flight of the mind into 
new realms of our cosmic environment. We have evolved 
wings for such flights, in the shape of the disciplined scien- 
tific imagination. Support for those wings is provided by 
knowledge created by human science and learning: so far ks 
this supporting atmosphere extends, so far can our wings 
take us in our explorations. 

However, it is time that I returned nearer home, to ask 
what role ideologies and integrative belief-systems have 
actually played in different types of human society, and, at 
one further remove, what role science and ,new knowledge 
have played in producing and altering the ideologies and 
integrative systems themselves. Only so can we begin even 
to consider the problem of harnessing our new knowledge 
of evolution, of domesticating it, as it Were, and making it 
perform a social function. 

First of all, then, the biologist naturally sees the course 
of human evolution as the differentiation and development 
of portions of the world-stuff organized as groups — not in 



the form of the interbreeding units or species of pre-human 
evolution [but of psycho-social groups — "inter-thinking 
units", in the arresting phrase of G. G. Simpson the Ameri- 
can palaeontologist, or "hifman collectives" »s the Marxists 
often term them. Just as the main fnethod of biological 
► evolution is the adjustment, by means of natural selection, 
of a mechanism of biological heredity capable of reproducing 
itself and any viable changes that may take placp in it, so the 
main method of human evolution is the adjustment, by 
means of psycho-social selection, of a fnechanism of cultural 
heredity, involving the cumulative transmission of tradition. 

The mechanism of biological heredity can be analysed in" 
purely material terms; so can most of the mechanisms of 
natural selection, though in higher animals non-material 
(psychological) properties may enter in, as in the evolution 
of colours and patterns with an adaptive function. But the 
mechanism of social and cultural heredity cannot be so 
analysed. What is transmitted always has a mental and 
psychological component, actual or potential. Even where 
what is socially transmitted appears at first sight to be purely 
material, there is a psychological component. With money, 
for instance, there has to be understanding of the use of 
tokens for exchange, there has to be agreement as to the use 
of a particular currency: otherwise we could not transmit it. 

Sometimes the psychological function subserved by the 
transmission of an object or event is quite different from that 
which it originally had. The value to us of a record of, say, 
a boy going to school in Sumeria 4000 years ago is in large 
measure that of giving us a sense of the continuity ©f human 
history and the permanent similarities of human nature — 
humani nil a me ahenum puto, such a document reminds us. 
A ritual object, such as" a bull-roarer, may have no aesthetic 
value, and ma^ have entirely lost the operative magical 
significance to which it owed its original function : yet it may 
have the psychological function of helping us in the com- 
prehension of our Ijuman past. 

Often, however, what is transmitted is intended to con- 
tinue exerting the same psychological function — a flag, for 
instance, a theological system, a socialj°itual, an idea. I say 
intended\ 9 iov the ritual may become fossilized, the idea may 

d ! 105 


become irrelevant in new conditions, the theological system 
may become distorted. 

But the mental components are always there. What is 
more, they cannot be separated from the material com- 
ponents. A man is riot a mind plus a body, but a unitary 
conscious organism, a mind-body. So the organic coherence* 
and continuity of a society or collective is assured by tfie 
existence of something which is transmitted : and that some- 
thing always involves both mind and matter. Sometimes, as 
with an idea, the mental aspect is the dominant one; but 
# even there it cannot be transmitted except by means of 
material sound-waves or visible marks on paper. In other 
cases, what is transmitted is determined by mind, or shaped 
by it, or at least conditioned by it. It is only through psycho- 
logical participation of one sort or another that individual 
human lives are tied together through space and time. Mind 
builds the boat in which the social unit floats through time, 
and it is only by utilizing the psychological components of 
transmission that the social unit can acquire any organic 

Nor can it be said that either component of social reality 
is subordinate or secondary to the other. The idealist and the 
theologian maintain that spirit has the primacy. This led 
in the past to various errors and unfortunate results. To-day, 
however, in this age of physical science and dialectical 
materialism, it is the opposite view which is dangerous. The 
net effect of Marxism, for instance, whatever the subtleties 
of its philosophers, is to produce the notion that all which 
really cofants is material' conditions and social machinery, 
and that emotions and ideologies, sciences and arts, however 
necessary to society, are automatic or epiphenomenal 
secondary products. 

The modern triumphs of physical science f have led to too 
much importance being attached to science in general as 
against other human activities. Furthermore, science has 
tended to become equated with physics and chemistry, 
experiment and quantitative measurement, so that quality 
and value, not being amenable to this type of treatment, 
have come to be neglected ; our thinking has been split into 
the so-called scientific or quantitative, and the non-scientific 

1 06 


or qualitative. Psychology itself has tried to achieve scientific 
respectability by quantifying itself, with the result that much 
of mind eludes its attention. 

While it is obvious that^nany ideas # arc oftly rationaliza- 
tions, that many beliefs are secondary to material and social 
conditions and have been generated by them, yet sometimes 
it is impossible to give either aspect the primacy; and in still 
other cases the existence of beliefs, however generated, has 
a decisive influence on material and social events — the 
mental conditions or even determines the form of the 

An obvious example is the belief of tHe Aztecs that human 
sacrifice was necessary to placate the sun-god and to ensure 
that the sun continued to rise each day. This led to the 
ceremonial slaughter of hundreds of thousands of human 
beings, thus making constant warfare necessary in order to 
provide the victims; and so, by alienating the neighbouring 
peoples, became one of the prime causes of the Aztecs' defeat 
by the Spaniards. 

Or again, the Egyptians' belief that continued existence in 
the after-life was only possible through the regular provision 
of food and other offerings resulted in the establishment and 
endowment of a mortuary priesthood, and so eventually led 
to a very large area of the country's land and resources 
coming into the hands of the priests and escaping from the 
more efficient methods of exploitation adopted by the kings. 
Payment for masses for the souls of the dead had a not dis- 
similar effect in medieval Christendom, and every school- 
boy knows what were the material results of men^s ideas 
about indulgences. 

Another example of the economic result of a belief is seen 
in India, where* the entire agricultural economy has been 
affected in a deplorable manner by belief in the sanctity of 

Belief in the spiritual efficacy of pilgrimages to sacred 
spots and holy placdfe has produced very extensive material 
effects. Canterbury and Compostella spring to mind, Mecca 
and Jerusalem, Benares and Qalat Seman round the pillar 
of the Stylite; and anyone who visited Italy in Holy Year 
can testifyno the resultant overcrowding. 



The only possible conclusions from the facts of evolution 
are that mental and psychological events are also material 
events, but experienced from the inside instead of studied 
from the outsiUe; th^t the men&l properties of life — know- 
ing, feeling, willing — on the whole make for biological 
success, since they have been intensified during evolutiqn ; 
and that in higher animals and especially in man, methods 
have been developed for extending the range and operative 
value of mind beyond the confines of the individual, through 
the establishment of causal chains from mind to mind, from 
mental event to mental event, by means of various material 
expressions or symb*ols. Gestures, call-notes and cries, and 
facial expressions are the primitive means of mental inter- 
communication : but in human society, thanks to new pro- 
perties of our minds, symbols, both arbitrary and other- 
wise, and finally language and works of art, can serve as 
vehicle between mind and mind, so that forms of mind as 
well as forms of matter become capable of reproducing and 
transmitting themselves. 

We could theoretically conceive the existence of brains as 
automatic, as efficient, and as devoid of mental experience 
as a modern calculating machine. However, for reasons 
beyond our comprehension, the biological utility of brains of 
a high order of complexity seems to depend on their possess- 
ing mental as well as material properties — the capacity for 
perception, for instance, as well as for the physical trans- 
mission and registration of sensory symbols, for emotion as 
well as for the setting of our organic machinery in prepara- 
tion for this or that type of action. If this were not so, we can 
be certain that mental funttions would not have been evolved, 
for natural selection is the sole or prime agency of biological 
evolution, and it is incapable of producing € ,anything except 
on the basis of its biological utility. 

Once a new piece of biological machinery has been 
evolved, however, it often proves to have various secondary 
implications or potentialities which hatfe nothing to do with 
its primary biological utility— correlates or consequences as 
opposed to original (and originating) properties. This is 
particularly true of mind. Once the faculty of conceptual 
thought and therefore ofabstraction had been evtflved, logic 

108 • 


and mathematics and science were there inpotentia^ however 
much effort was needed for each step towards their actual- 
ization ; and once what I may call the synoptic faculty had 
been developed, the unitive* faculty by yvhich* present sensa- 
tions, perceptions, emotions, memories, images, deductions, 
ftigntal constructions, and much else can all be brought 
together in a single mental experience or act of conscious- 
ness, almost infinite creative possibilities lay open — in 
comprehension, art, imagination, and jnorality. 

With this^ new and illuminating pictures of the world- 
process become apparent to us. Note that I say pictures : not 
interpretations, still less explanations- —but pictures, which 
reveal in a flash something which had not previously been 
apparent. Biological evolution is seen as a manifestation of 
the almost infinitely improbable and varied potentialities of 
self-reproducing world-stuff. Man's evolution, including 
human history, is seen as a manifestation of the potentialities 
of mind once it too had become self-reproducing through 
cumulative tradition. We have no right to say, with some 
philosophers and many theologians, that human history is 
either produced or directed by some external mind or 
absolute spirit: but we cannot avoid saying that it is> in one 
very significant aspect, mind or spirit. This does not imply 
an idealist position, but a genuinely monistic one, a unitary 
naturalism. Mind and matter are, in human affairs as in 
h&man bodies, always united as two aspects or faces of a 
single reality. 

In the sphere of human mind, as in that of animjl body, 
much of the variety is improbable and fantastic in the 
extreme; and again, among the variety the significant fact 
stands out that with the passage of time new levels of 
achievement are attained, new and higher potentialities 
actualized. But there is only one side of the picture. The 
realization of mind's possibilities takes place only against 
immense resistance. There is the inertia and perversity of 
lifeless matter to brf taken into account, since only in and 
through matter can mind realize itself. There is the un- 
■ conscious but effective hostility of other living species, 
n&tably pests and agents of disease. There is the biological 
foundation of mind, the self-reproducing matter of our 

• 109 


bodies, with its own momentum of demands for food, and of 
over-production of population until quantity acts as a brake 
on quality. There is the inertia of social institutions which 
have developed in relation to oi*e phase of human develop- 
ment but become set and crystallized so as to resist the next 
onward impulsion. And there is the frustration and tfre 
waste engendered by conflict — conflict not only between 
individuals and groups, but within mind itself, both within 
individual minds, an4 also within the common pool of mind 
and its products belonging to the evolving society. 


But it is time to rdcurn to my main theme — the need for a 
new belief-system or ideology. Many people will say that any 
deliberate attempt to create a belief-system is unnatural and 
doomed to failure; such things cannot be turned out artifici- 
ally but must have a natural growth. I do not think that this 
is necessarily true. After all, the present epoch differs from 
all previous periods in possessing a far more extensive and 
detailed knowledge about the universe in general and about 
human societies in particular — though this knowledge must 
be synthesized and processed before it can serve as basis for 
a new belief-system. For this, new techniques of teamwork 
and group research and new forms of co-operation between 
specialisms will be required, as well as new types of educa- 
tional curriculum and new techniques of teaching. In so far 
as an effective new belief-system must have a religiolis 
aspect, it will doubtless need to wait for the appearance of a 
prophet who can cast it into compelling form and shake the 
world with it. 

Any new ideology will ^change and grow — indeed, if it is 
to be based on science, it must retain that combination of 
flexibility with assurance that is one of the ^all-marks of the 
scientific method. But that does not in any way prevent the 
main outlines of its structure from being deliberately 
synthesized, as any piece of apparatus can be synthesized 
provided tftat we have enough scientific and technological 

In setting about such a task, we need the help of science 
in three main ways. First, we need to explore the psycho- 
logical foundations of ideologies and belief-systems : what 



psychological needs they meet, what compulsions they 
suffer, by what inner machinery they are moulded and their 
development is guided — in other words, their genetics, their 
embryology, and their developmental physieflogy. 

Then we need a survey of the structure and functions of 
bglief-systems in as many different societies as possible — 
their comparative physiology, their comparative anatomy: 
what they do and what they consist of. Next we must supple- 
ment this comparative study with a historical and relational 
one, seeking to discover the way in which ideologies and 
belief-systems change with changes in economic, social, 
and political structure, and in know^dge, skills, and crea- 
tive expression — their phylogeny and evolutionary history. 
Further, we need a survey of those elements in our present 
world and our knowledge about it, with which any new 
belief-system should be consonant — the social, intellectual, 
and factual environment to which it must be adapted. And 
finally we (or our descendants) will have to have a try at the 
business of synthesis itself, the actual construction of a 
belief-system, or at any rate a working model of a belief- 

The first thing that strikes an outsider confronted with an 
anthropological question of this sort is the astonishing variety 
of the social mechanisms which have in point of fact some 
such unitive or integrative function, even when we omit all 
tliose in which the ideological component is weak or negli- 
gible — accepted techniques and customs of life which have no 
particular emotional or intellectual charge associated with 
them, but are just passed on frorfl one generation* and ac- 
cepted by the next. The variety of belief-systems is indeed 
bewildering, especially their functional roles. Thus a theistic 
belief may mejyi belief in divine immanence, possession or 
transcendence, in polytheism or monotheism, in local and 
concretely personified divinities or in a remote and universal 
Absolute. The fact of death is ascribed by one people to 
professional witchcraft, by another to routines <Sf sorcery by 
non-professionals, by yet others to a god or gods, to natural 
causes, to ancestral spirits, to Fate, to devils or demons, or 
to human sin. Again, the universal problem of "wrong" 
thoughts#and actions, and of relief from their burden, is met 

1 1 1 


in different societies by all kinds of assumptions and beliefs, 
many of them mutually contradictory, concerning sin, guilt, 
shame, and conscience, and concerning salvation, asceti- 
cism, non-atta(?hmenJt, sacrifice, *an after-life, mystical self- 
transcendence, and purgation. 

How can all these be truly functional or adaptive? Andfif 
adaptive, how can any be truer than any other? Essentially 
the same problem confronts the biologist, faced with the 
equally astonishing variety of animal types. How can such 
different types of organizations as those of a tortoise and a 
,wasp both be adaptive and useful to their possessors? And 
still more difficult, h6w can we say that a wasp is "higher" 
than a worm, or a man "higher" than either, or even than 
an amoeba, when all manage to exist and survive? 

In another essay in this volume I have dealt with the bio- 
logical problem of evolutionary progress, and its indubitable 
existence in spite of universal adaptation. As regards belief- 
systems, I would make the following points. Adaptation, 
whether in anthropology or biology, is not anything absolute ; 
it merely connotes a relation to a particular environment, 
and one which permits survival. The environment to which 
belief-systems are related is not just "nature" (which of 
course includes man's own nature), but man's knowledge 
about nature. When that knowledge is primitive and crude, 
his ideas and beliefs cannot be closely related to the true facts, 
and all kinds of rationalizations and fantasies can and db 
play a part, as well as various primitive assumptions (such as 
magic), which later knowledge forces him to reject. 

Thus*' the essential relation to be investigated is that 
between belief-systems arid the advance of knowledge. A 
tendency to the increase in quantity and coherence of estab- 
lished knowledge is the most obvious and pf rhaps the most 
important among the general trends of human evolution. 

Meanwhile, some system of beliefs is necessary. Every 
human individual and every human society is faced with 
three oversftadowing questions: What afn I, or what is man? 
What is the world in which I find myself, or what is the 
environment which man inhabits? And what is my relation 
to that world, or what is man's destiny? Men cannot direct 
the course of their life until they have taken up an attitude 



to life; they can only do that by giving some sort of answer 
to these three great questions; and their belief-systems 
embody that answer. 

Beliefs, in their origin and for muc£ of tHeir history, are 
inextricably entangled with ritual, since, as has been stressed 
•by many workers and has been generalized in illuminating 
fashion by Susanne Langer in her book Philosophy in a New 
Key> ideas, beliefs, myths, rituals, and forms of art are all 
expressions of man's basic symbol-making faculty. Rituals 
are always in some measure acted beliefs, beliefs always in 
some measure subjectivized rituals. 

The most obvious integrative practices or ideas are those 
whose function it is to emphasize the distinctiveness which 
is almost always rationalized into a feeling of superiority to 
other groups : thus the Greeks assumed their cultural superi- 
ority to all other peoples, and emphasized this by the use of 
the word barbarian for non-Greeks. Many tabus, whatever 
their origin, come to include this as a later function. Pride 
in one's own local or special gods is another such mechan- 
ism. The culmination is the transference of sacredness to the 
group itself. This is what the ancient Hebrews did in pro- 
claiming themselves the Chosen People, what the Nazis did 
with their false racialism, and what the U.S.S.R. are now 
doing in their insistence on what they claim as the unique 
achievements of Socialist Man. 

• In the development of a new ideology for the One World 
of the future, the world's oneness will constitute a real 
difficulty, for such ideas tend to emphasize distinctiveness 
as against others and readily spill: over into hostifity. The 
solution would appear to lie in emphasizing the uniqueness 
of man, his dictinctiveness in having the future of evolution 
entrusted to hi§ charge. 

Another unitive function is that of celebration. The dance 
after a successful hunt; the firing of cannon to celebrate a 
successful battle; the celebration of solemn anniversaries, as 
of Armistice Day, of the Fourth of July in the LP.S.A., of the 
Fourteenth of July in France, though they celebrate some 
particular event, exert a general integrative function. Or the 
cfelebration may be of some natural recurrence. The obvious 
examples«here concern the turning-points of the agricultural 



year — spring, fertility, the summer solstice, harvest, the 
passing of winter's grip, and so on. These, of course, were 
originally magico-religious in nature: but they certainly 
exerted most powerful unitive Sanctions as well — we need 
only think of the Adonis cult of Byblos and Afqa, bringing 
thousands of scattered people together to celebrate thgif 
common destiny as utilizers of the great discovery of agri- 
culture (besides uniting them in a common consciousness of 
the mysteries of their own existence) ; the rites of Osiris in 
Egypt; May Day celebrations in all their transformations, 
# down to their modern function of celebrating the solidarity 
of Labour; Christmastide festivities (with their switch of 
emphasis towards New Year celebration in countries like 

Then there are the celebrations of stages in man's journey 
from the womb to the grave — name-giving, rites de passage 
and initiations, graduation, confirmation, marriage, and the 
rituals of death. While many of these appear at first sight to 
have only individual or restricted relevance, they all actually 
perform important integrative functions. Initiation cere- 
monies at puberty not only unite an age-group, but impress 
on the initiates their new membership of the group of young 
adults of the same sex, their unity of participation in its privi- 
leges and duties. Funeral rites unite the participants in a sense 
of common fate as well as of the continuity of the generations. 

Once men come to be concerned with the realization 6f 
new possibilities of experience and of personal development, 
rather than the simple passage from one natural stage of life 
to the rifext, new types of ritual or celebration are required. 
These may be concerned with promotions in hierarchies of 
rank, or with degrees of learning .or steps of progressive 
initiation into sacred mysteries. The society of the future 
will need to devise new ways for coping with the variety of 
such situations. 

Ancestor-worship gives integration through continuity, 
as well as Helping to emphasize the distinctiveness of the 
group. The glorification of national history subserves a 
similar function in societies which have a history, while 
myths of origin and legends of founding heroes played 
similar role in earlier societies. 



There are rituals which cement the social relationships of 
individuals or groups — the exchange of gifts, of ceremonial 
feasts, of ceremonial visits. The hypertrophied role which 
such exchanges play in Polynesian life i£ well-known. Some- 
times a precise integration is arrived at, as in the Kavirondo 
B^ntu of East Africa, where Wagner points out that cere- 
monial visits are made to "precisely those persons to whom 
a man can turn for economic support, for help in a quarrel or 
dispute, for a share in garden land, or on whose goodwill he 
depends to conduct his marriage successfully". The visiting 
cards and other formalities of social intercourse in recent 
Western European "Society" played »a somewhat similar* 

Men may be united through trouble or disaster. Thus 
the ceremonies of the northern Maya, in throwing sacrifices 
(including human victims dedicated by the community, as 
well as individual offerings) into the cliff-bound waters of 
the Cenote at Chichen Itza certainly gave them a sense of 
unity in face of drought or famine or war. 

The list becomes too long for more than bare enumera- 
tion. Participation in a ritual meal, that widespread practice 
which is sublimated in Holy Communion; recurrent acts of 
common worship, prayer or praise; sacred mysteries as at 
Eleusis; ritual dramas, seen at their highest pitch in fifth- 
century Athens ; pilgrimages ; the tribal gatherings of Aus- 
tralian aborigines; festivals of sport like the Hellenic Games, 
where potentially hostile political groups were united in a 
common rivalry — these and much else exert some kind of 
socially integrative function. * • 

Even where religion is esoteric or restricted, and where, 
as in ancient Egypt, its, main celebrations take place inside 
enormous temples from which ordinary people are excluded, 
it still can exert an integrative function. The people conceive 
the temple as a sort of power-house for the generation or 
manipulation of forces necessary for the safety of the com- 
munity, and the king and priests as the requisite specialists. 

This introduces us to the notion of vicarious participation, 
which in one form or another plays an important part in 
many ideologies, culminating in the central Christian idea 
of vicarious sacrifice and suffering. This idea, of the vicarious 



performance of tasks or bearing of burdens by different 
sections of the community, is basic to any developed social 
organization, as well as providing an outlet for some of the 
deeper elements in Human nature, and any new ideology will 
need to pay careful attention to it. 

Nor must we forget the function of belief-systems # irt 
relation to guilt and sin. This chiefly concerns individuals 
and their separate "salvation" or personal development: but 
it has its integrative aspects too. Such rituals and beliefs can 
unite men in a common consciousness of evil and error. All 
( humanity is saddled with a burden of guilt, conscious or 
unconscious (Freud* has, of course, shown the way to an 
explanation of how this comes to be so) ; all humanity has 
capacities for evil and for error as well as for good and truth, 
and everyone is guilty of sins and mistakes. Accordingly, 
men can be united by the common urgency of freeing them- 
selves from these burdens. Only so will they be able to 
devote themselves to the more positive and more essential 
task of fuller living, which any comprehensive ideology 
must inculcate. 

Crude ideas on this subject can have most unfortunate 
effects on integrative ideologies. If men neglect the basic 
fact of the evil in human nature (including the intellectual 
evils of stupidity and error, and the spiritual evil of self- 
righteousness) and then proceed to ascribe the obvious evils 
of existence entirely to social conditions, the resultant 
ideology is likely to be a Utopian millenarism, in which the 
present reality is sacrificed to an imaginary future. This was 
true of Some versions of the Victorian belief in progress, and 
characterises communist and all revolutionary ideologies. 

Such "pie-in-the-sky" ideologies bring us to the escape 
and compensatory functions of belief-systeips. To all people 
at some time, and to many people much of the time, the 
world is an unpleasant or even horrible place, and life a trial 
or even a misery. All normal people at some time are 
oppressed by a sense of their own inferiority or, at least, 
inadequacy. Little wonder that many ideologies, religious 
and otherwise, are concerned with providing escapes from 
the unpleasant reality, compensations for the paralysing 
feeling of insufficiency. The escape may be via an«imaginary 



millennium, or may have a more restricted goal (such as the 
last generation's idea of a War to end War), or may be into 
a Promised Land, or into bliss in a Next World. Sometimes 
escape is sought from the burden of sel^ its inadequacy and 
its limitations — whether through the orgiastic rituals of 
tojne ancient religions, through asceticism, through medita- 
tion, through a sense of union with the divine, or through an 
agreeable sense of certitude in one's own Tightness or 

When an ideology of escape becomes escapism, it is 
clearly bad. It was this compensatory and escapist aspect of 
Christianity that Marx had in mind when he made the un- 
justified generalization that religion is the opium of the 
people. We must, however, note that escape is not neces- 
sarily a wrong or cowardly aim. All existence is always to 
some degree in some prison or other, and it is good and right 
to escape into greater freedom. Self-transcendence, the 
desire for social progress, practical idealism, hope itself, are 
all forms of escape, and can be good and right if they do not 
escape from external reality altogether into celestial pies and 
wishful imaginings, or from the internal reality of human 
imperfection into self-righteousness (itself a grave form of 
sin) and impossible certitude (itself a form of wishful 

Ideologies and belief-systems may also have as one of 
their functions the preservation of the power and interests 
of the ruling class or group. But to assert, as does dialectical 
materialism, that this is the sole function of all belief-systems 
(or even the main function of mostjf, is itself a piece bf ideo- 
logical dogma, and demonstrably far from the whole truth. 

Religions are, of course, among the most potent integra- 
tive mechanising known — the very word signifies that they 
bind men in the bonds of common purposes. To discuss 
their integrative functions would take a book. Here I can 
only touch on a few relevant points. First, religions can 
divide as well as unite, so that a study of what gives them 
divisive properties is very important for learning what to 
avoid in building up an ideology which could be integrative 
far humanity as a whole. One of the most potent divisive 
factors is the claim to complete or absolute truth, whether of 

• "7 


revelation, dogma, righteousness, or anything else. Systems 
based on any such absolute inevitably come up against new 
facts and new discoveries which are in opposition to their 
pretensions. The on{ty method tken open is to assert that the 
new ideas are also absolute, in the opposed sense of being 
absolutely wrong; and this at once creates division, and shytS 
the door on synthesis and development. A claim to absolute 
truth may be dressed up to appear as a claim to universality: 
but in point of fact it is always particular and not general, 
and can never become truly universal. Le mieux c y est Vennemi 
du bieri) and a pretended absolute is the enemy of true 
universality and of a'real increase in truth. 

Religions can also be divisive in denying the unity of 
human nature, and attempting to project evil and guilt out 
of the individual and on to somebody or something else — 
usually a class or a foreign nation. Instead of treating the 
conflict in the soul as a natural phenomenon, which may be 
only transitory, since it is capable of being reconciled in the 
integration of personal development, the conflict is stabilized, 
made more permanent, and projected as an inter-group divi- 
sion into the outer world, where it then is capable of 
hindering human integration. 

There is still a more subtle way in which religions can be 
divisive. They can divide reality itself. This they do when- 
ever they insist on the existence of the supernatural. In its 
earliest stages, when religion perhaps scarcely deserved tftc 
name, since it consisted largely of magic, it was naturalistic, 
though its naturalism was false or erroneous, for it was based 
on the belief that magic was part of the nature of things. 
Sacredness, whether good or evil, Mana, numinous qualities, 
magical potency, good and bad witchcraft — they were sup- 
posed to inhere in natural objects or people or rituals or 
forms of words, and were not regarded as emanating from 
another realm. 

Personification is probably rather less primitive than 
magic; in any case, its share in determining the character of 
human belief-systems seems to have increased during early 
prehistory. Thus, religious and magic forces came increas- 
ingly to be personified as spirits or gods, and this increasing 
tendency to personification was accompanied hy an in- 

118 • 


creasingly sharp division of religion into two disparate 
realms, of natural and supernatural. But the division was 
often far from complete. The gods of classical Greece, how- 
ever supernatural in somi respects, Jhad partly material 
natures and lived largely in the natural world. Divinity then 
w^s not, as so often now, regarded as an attribute only of 
supernatural beings. It was quite natural to the ancient 
Romans to deify their emperors and call them Divus\ for 
their divinity merely meant that some of the sacredness 
inherent in the natural order of things was, as it were, dis- 
tilled and concentrated in their persons, as holders of their 
sacred office. In this the Romans were continuing the tradi- 
tion of the priest-king, which culminated in the Egyptian 
empire, and of which Shakespeare's "divinity that doth 
hedge a king" is the latter-day dilution. The idea that 
divinity could accrue to a man as son or descendant of a god 
was also current in the ancient world, as witness all the 
legends of demi-gods. On tombstones from Asia Minor in 
the century around the beginning of the Christian era, men 
of various religions are often described as "Son of God, 
Saviour". And, of course, Christian theology combines this 
concept of divinity by sonship with that of divinity by 
incarnation: the divine, banished to the supernatural realm 
by a process of personification pushed to a too logical con- 
clusion, returns to dwell in a natural human body. All 
concepts of divine immanence, possession, and incarnation 
are attempts to bridge this unnatural division between 
natural and supernatural. 

The modern naturalistic approach acknowledges # the ex- 
istence of the quality of sacredness or holiness among other 
realities, accepts the fac.t that men can reach transcendent 
heights of personality or experience, and reminds us that 
ideals and abstractions are facts of nature, just as much 
products of the cosmic process as trees or stones or human 
beings; and in so doing makes it possible to repair the split 
in reality and to create a truly unitary and unitive ideology. 

The relation between such things as ritual and ideology 
may be obscure and implicit, as among many primitive 
peoples, or obvious and explicit, as in Christianity with its 
developed, theology, but the ideological framework always 



has an important power of determining the rest. In fact, once 
man has learnt to think deliberately, the core of any socially 
integrative mechanism is bound to be ideological, centering 
round man's idea ofjthe cosmo^and of his own destiny. It 
is this which will give such mechanisms their set and their 
effectiveness, and will qualify the associated rituals, doctrinal 
formulations and the rest. 

Man's view of his destiny inevitably changes with the 
progressive illumination revealed by new knowledge. The 
latest revelation — scarce dreamt of and never substantiated 
in earlier ages — is that of evolutionary science. In its light, 
as I have set forth eaflier, man is enabled and, indeed, forced 
to view his destiny as the trustee, spearhead, or effective 
agent of any further evolutionary progress on this planet. 
That is the destiny which he cannot escape. He can attempt 
to shirk it or shut his eyes to it, but he will still be performing 
it, though maybe inefficiently or even badly. If he accepts 
this new illumination, and the view of his destiny which it 
implies, the basis of a new ideology is thereby at once deter- 
mined. So, too, is a certain general attitude to reality. This 
must be a naturalistic attitude, since evolution manifests the 
unity of man, including all his spiritual properties and 
achievements, with the rest of the universe. Human intel- 
lectual and spiritual constructions, together with machines 
and societies, birds and plants, minerals and suns and 
nebulae, are all parts of the one cosmic process : no part ws 
any less natural than any other. 

The essence of human destiny is thus to introduce evolv- 
ing life? in the person of man, to fuller realization and new 
possibilities. For this we need to chart the potentialities of 
nature, especially human nature. 4 mon g those new possi- 
bilities, hardly or not at all available to pre-human life, are 
those of comprehension, beauty, love, woncfer, significance, 
creation, morality, holiness, and conscious enjoyment; and 
all these can either exist as subjective experience, or as 
expressed concretely in matter or through action. Further- 
more, through that capacity for fusion or interpenetration 
which is an outstanding characteristic of mind, they can be 
blended and built up in all kinds of ways. Effective morality 
requires comprehension; creation may be the qreation of 

120 , 


beauty, or significance, or both, and should involve elements 
of love as well as of comprehension. 

By general consensus these possibilities differ in value. 
Their differences are of tw« sorts. Thfjy maf differ simply 
in regard to their rightness or wrongness. The knowledge 
Anvwhich comprehension rests may be false or incorrect; the 
products of material creation — bridges, machines, exhange 
systems — may not work, or may work badly; the products of 
aesthetic creation — poems, paintings, symphonies — may be 
bad, in not adequately expressing or transmitting emotion or 
understanding: a code of morality may be false or bad, in 
that it produces evil rather than good rfcsults. 

But they can also differ in level — in being higher or 
lower, in embodying more, or completer, or higher values. 
Comprehension may differ in extension, depth or fulness; 
works of art may differ in quality and greatness; morals in 
nobility and efficacy. Finally, there are what I have called 
the highest experiences, like those of the great mystics or 
great discoverers, those that may come at the sound of a 
musical masterpiece as opposed to just a good melody, or at 
the sight of a great picture as opposed to a good piece of paint- 
ing, those involved in genuine dedication or sacrifice and in 
love at its highest or fullest, as opposed to affection and 
ordinary decent behaviour; these, all agree, are not merely 
quantitatively different, but qualitatively higher, in their 
vely nature: yet there are all degrees, and the lower ranges 
may still be good in themselves. 

It is thus part of human destiny to be the necessary agent 
of the cosmos in understanding more of itself, in bearing 
witness to its wonder, beauty, and interest, in creating new 
aids to and mechanisms for existence, in experiencing itself, 
and so introducing the cosmos to more new and more 
valuable experiences. 

Be it noted that these possibilities always arise from a 
participation of individual minds with other elements of 
the cosmos, or at least from their joint involvement. The 
mere perception of a leaf, for instance, involves the existence 
of the leaf, of some exceedingly complicated anatomical 
stfuctures and physiological processes, and the innate capa- 
cities of our minds for perceiving colour, size and form, not 


to mention the unconscious adjustment of perception to past 

Neither beauty or scientific law exist per se> on their own, 
in objects: their generation requires the participation of 
human minds and their interaction with objects. Even works 
of creative imagination can only be realized with the ai4 off, 
or on the basis of, past experiences of external reality. (I 
should be inclined to say the same in principle about the 
ineffable experiences of the mystics, reached by abstracting 
the mind from the outer world; but here the situation has 
not yet been properly explored or analysed.) The external 
element in this joint involvement may be predominantly 
human affairs and other human beings, including their 
minds; but this in no wise invalidates the general point. 

Thus, for man to fulfil his destiny, he must think of him- 
self as in partnership with the cosmos. Just as he cannot 
exist adequately if he exhausts or overspends the material 
resources of the earth, so he cannot realize many possibilities 
of beauty or wonder if he too much destroys or tames the 
beauty, strangeness, and variety of nature — as by putting 
dams and pylons and bungalows all over Snowdonia or the 
sea-coast, or killing off big game, or draining every drainable 
pond or lake. Evolution thus insists on the oneness of man 
with nature, not merely in respect of biological descent and 
chemical composition, but because nature is the indispens- 
able basis of his material existence, and also the indispens- 
able partner in his mental and spiritual achievements. 

Such an ideology has something important to tell us about 
the fundamental units of humanity, the individual and the 
community. The direct and actual realization of those 
possibilities which it is man's destiny to actualize is always 
effected in and by individuals. A state or, a society cannot 
experience significance or holiness. If a society becomes 
significant, it is in the minds of its citizens; if it achieves 
holiness, as in all deifications of the state or its rulers, the 
holiness is thrust upon it by individual minds. An evolu- 
tionary ideology is thus a valuable reminder of that real 
primacy of the individual which all totalitarian ideologies 
attempt to deny or destroy. The community, together with 
its organs, including the state, provides the framework for 



individual lives, and is the vehicle of the continuity and 
change required for further evolution: of itself it cannot 
realize any new possibilities for life, but only some of the 
means for the attainment o&that end. j 

The individual has primacy in another way. Not only are 
hujnan individuals, in the shape of developed personalities, 
biologically and intrinsically higher than the community 
or the state, but they include the highest products of the 
cosmic process of which we have any knowledge. But, while 
human individuals have their biological individuality fully 
determined for them by the automatic processes of differen- 
tiation and growth, they have to develop their mental indivi- 
duality, or personality, after birth: and this development 
can reach very different levels of completeness and richness, 
effectiveness and achievement. Thus, one of the main possi- 
bilities which it is man's destiny to realize is the production 
of more fully developed individual personalities. 

Our evolutionary ideology needs to bring to men's notice 
the possibilities open to human beings and the techniques 
by which they may be realized — possibilities of aesthetic 
and intellectual experience, of more acute perception and 
awareness, of health, of physical and mental control, of 
memory, of quick and effective education, of integration, of 
spiritual as well as of physical training, of hypnosis and the 
unconscious mind, and little-explored regions like mystical 
experience and so-called paranormal phenomena. If so, the 
common man of the future will be ashamed if he does not 
attain a far higher level of experience and personality than 
to-day's miserable average, and states and societies'Vill be 
judged by the opportunities they provide for such attain- 

But the humjin community is as indispensable as the 
human individual. Indeed, it is impossible to think of a 
human individual apart from some human group; the two 
both play as indispensable and complementary roles in the 
situation in which the cosmic process now finds itself as do 
heredity and environment in the development of an organ- 
ism. Accordingly, both the present and the future of the 
community must enter into our ideology. In the present, 
there is ordinary civic duty from the individual, and in 



return his satisfaction in feeling useful. The community 
provides the mechanism for all that is distinctively human ; 
while its structure can, to a considerable degree, guide 
human impulses into civilized channels and away from the 
horrible outlets of primitive cruelty and violence. The com- 
munity ensures the continuity of the traditions and idea/? hi 
and by which individuals live. In addition, the community 
is the necessary vehicle and mechanism for desirable long- 
term change as well, as for continuity. 

Further, any modern ideology must concern itself with 
the community of man in its entirety, the potential One 
World of all the racfes, nations, classes, and individuals, past, 
present, and to come, that go to make up the human species; 
and accordingly must think of the narrower (if now better 
organized) community of the nation in relation to this larger 
and more lasting whole. 

The idea of the community and its future thus enters into 
our ideology to satisfy man's desire to work for something 
bigger than himself and more enduring than his own group 
or community, and his need to compensate for the imper- 
fections and miseries of the present. 

Crude individualism leads to crude hedonism as well as 
to selfishness and ruthlessness ; and over-emphasis on indi- 
vidual development to a disguised hedonism, to sterile 
asceticism, or to selfishly individual salvationism. Crude 
communism, if I may use the word in a rather unusual serfse, 
as a system that maintains the primacy of the community, 
leads straight to totalitarianism, the Fiihrer principle, and 
state-worship, while over-emphasis on the future evolution 
of the community will enthrone millenary illusions as 
supreme. In such circumstances, men forget that, as has been 
well said, "eternity is now", and that their.dcstiny and their 
duty can only be truly fulfilled by present realization and 
achievements, as well as by concern and sacrifice for a distant 
future, however roseate. 

To the individual personality and his development I must 
now return. A great deal has been written about man's 
psychological and spiritual needs, often on the assumption 
that needs can be equated with cravings or wishes, and that 
any and every such need ought somehow to be satisfied. This 



is as false as it would be to assert that man's desires for eating 
are to be equated with his needs for food, and that his greed 
should somehow be satisfied as much as his hunger. We 
must consider the matter fro>m a quite 'different angle : how 
does the personality work, how does it develop, and how 
c'ovld its working and the mode of its development be 

Let me take a couple of instances. We owe to Freud and 
his followers the discovery that all normal infants are saddled 
with a burden of guilt, conscious or unconscious, as a result 
of having to repress the impulses of aggression in the primal 
infantile conflict of hate and love for the parents. We have 
a "need" for getting rid of this burden, for resolving the 
conflict, for moral or spiritual certitude. One way of doing 
so is by projecting our guilt outwards on to others, and so 
making them appear as a legitimate enemy, against whom 
our impulses of hate and aggression can then find a per- 
mitted outlet. But the existence of this need and of the sense 
of its satisfaction does not guarantee its Tightness. On the 
contrary, history demonstrates over and over again that it 
has often served not only to justify war but to make wars 
bloodier and more cruel. 

The sense of guilt can only be rightly overcome by recog- 
nizing the fact of one's own guilt-complex, and by facing the 
internal conflict and reconciling its two parties in the higher 
syhthesis of an integrated personality. Absolute certitude of 
complete moral Tightness can never be obtained, for all men 
are inevitably subject to moral error ; and the sense of having 
obtained such certitude is always a false illusion, and'bound 
to produce bad results. 

The so-called need /or intellectual certitude springs 
largely from thejeal need for action in a world too complex 
for our ignorance to understand. It is often met by the pro- 
vision of dogma, whose absolute truth is buttressed by 
authority or guaranteed by revelation. This is temporarily 
satisfying, but in the long run has always broken down in 
the face of the accumulation of new facts and new knowledge. 
Absolute intellectual certitude, indeed, is as impossible as 
absolute moral certitude. In this sphere man has invented 
a better method for dealing with the problem — the method 



of science. This, by denying the possibility of absolute or 
complete knowledge and insisting on the value of doubt, has, 
in the short space of three centuries, permitted man to build 
up a greater vDlumd of established and properly organized 
knowledge than was possible in all previous history. 

In this there is a lesson for all other aspects of existciy:^. 
The scientific method of the working hypothesis, as the only 
gateway to the erection of comprehensive theories, laws, and 
principles, to the establishment of firmer knowledge, and 
to the securing of more successful practice and better control 
of nature, can and should be utilized in other spheres — in 
morals, in politics, ifi social affairs, in religion. 

In other words, any new ideology must not be dogmatic, 
and must refrain from any claim to absoluteness or com- 
pleteness; it must utilize scientific method, so as to be 
expansive, flexible, and unitive instead of rigid and eventually 
restrictive or divisive. Tolerance, respect for cultural and 
individual variety, acceptance of difference — these are some 
of the counterparts of the scientific method in other fields. 
However, they themselves should not be employed rigidly or 
in any absolute sense, but in the same sort of way that the 
principle of the working hypothesis is applied in the natural 

The question of course remains, how such a mere intel- 
lectual analysis can become a social force, how a set of ideas 
can develop into an ideology, how the evolutionary concept 
of man's destiny can come to affect that destiny. 

What celebrations will be devised of human achievement 
and human possibilities, yrhat pilgrimages and gatherings, 
what ceremonies of participation, what solemnizations of the 
steps in individual lives and personal relations? What rituals 
and techniques of "salvation", of self-develppment and self- 
transcendence will be worked out, what new incentives and 
new modes of education, what methods for purgation and 
for achieving freedom from the burdens of guilt and fear 
without inflicting harm on oneself or on others, what new 
formulations of knowledge and consequent belief? What 
modes will the future find of distilling its ideas of its destiny 
into compelling expression, in drama or architecture, pai/it- 
ing or story, or perhaps in wholly new forms of art? 

126 - 


To such questions I cannot presume to attempt answers, 
but will merely point out that they pose themselves, and 
must sometime and somewhere be answered. What I am 
sure of is that some such* naturalistit and' evolutionary 
synthesis as I have indicated is inevitable, and that the 
resultant view of human destiny is essentially true, to what- 
ever extent further analysis may modify or develop it. And 
if it is essentially true, it will prevail. It will prevail through 
the efforts of those whom its truth cojnpels to belief, and 
their belief to action. As always happens with new truths 
and beliefs, those believers will at the outset be but a tiny 
minority: but such a minority is capable of leavening the 
whole lump. 

■ 127 


jaRGE-scale scientific advance depends primarily on fijjd- 
-Lrfing the naturalistic explanation of some natural process or 
set of facts. Usually what is important is the material basis of 
the process; once that has been discovered, the explanation 
becomes evident. Thus Galileo and Newton gave a natural- 
istic explanation of the movements of the heavenly bodies; 
while the whole of*modern chemistry dates from the dis- 
covery of the atomic basis of matter. Of course, scientific 
advance depends also on the discovery of new facts. Think 
of discoveries like Galvani's, of muscular contraction under 
electric stimulus; or Rontgen's, of a new kind of radiation so 
enigmatic as to have to be called X-rays ; of Fleming's, that 
the growth of mould might prevent the growth of bacteria. 
But such discoveries of fact, however novel and exciting, are 
important mainly because they set people puzzling after 
new explanations of old processes, or on to the trail of a new 
and unexpected process to be explained. 

Genetics is no exception. Fifty years ago it was not a 
science at all — just a series of speculations, weighed down by 
superstition and leavened by a few tentatives of scientific- 
study. Yet to-day it is rapidly becoming recognized as the 
most central and most fundamental of all the life-sciences. 
And if we ask how this spectacular progress has been 
achieved, the answer is simple : through the discovery of the 
material basis of heredity. 

In 1859, when Darwin published The Origin of Species, 
practically nothing was known, scientifically speaking, about 
either heredity or reproduction. Pasteur had not yet proved 
that all life came from pre-existing life; the chromosomes 
had not even been detected; and it was only just being 
realized that sexual reproduction involved the union of two 
cells, the tiny male sperm and the bulky female ovum. Only 
in the 1880s was it established that the essential part of this 
process is the joining up in one nucleus of two sets of 
chromosomes from the nuclei of the male and female cells, 



chromosomes being visible threads constant in number for any 
one species. In fact, the chromosomes obviously must have 
the main say in heredity, for they are the only things that 
are contributed equally by bqth parents \o the^new life; and 
yet we know that offspring take after their fathers as much 
as tfiey do after their mothers. Equally significant is the fact 
that the normal complement of the cells of the body is two 
entire packs or sets of chromosomes, but that before sexual 
reproduction the two packs separate from each other, so 
that each sexual cell, whether egg or sperm, receives only 
one. The normal double number — twQ packs — is of course 
restored by the union of egg and sperm at fertilization. 

But the actual mode of inheritance of particular visible 
characters remained obscure and all sorts of speculations 
were rife. Perhaps the chief source of confusion was that no 
one had really clearly distinguished between what an animal 
or plant looks like — its visible and measurable characters — 
and what it can transmit to future generations — its genetic 
constitution. The German zoologist, Weismann, had made 
a good beginning by pointing out that quite different-looking 
individuals could be alike in their hereditary capacities. 
Some of the variation that we find in any assemblage of 
animals or plants is due to differences in the conditions of 
life (like the fleshiness of plants brought up in salty condi- 
tions or the conversion of the permanently aquatic axolotl 
into a land salamander by a meal of thyroid) or to use or 
disuse (like the larger arm-muscles of a blacksmith). These 
we call modifications \ and we now know, as Weismann 
asserted on theoretical grounds, that they are not inheritable. 
But if you bring up all your experimental group in identical 
conditions, individuals jvill still differ somewhat among 
themselves, and fhis part of the variation is due to internal 
differences and is inheritable. 

The failure to distinguish between these fundamentally 
different sources of variation had allowed all sorts of errone- 
ous view to flourish, notably the Lamarckian superstition 
that so-called acquired characteristics could be inherited. 
However, Weismann's work did little or nothing to under- 
mine another basically erroneous view: that heredity in- 
volved thq blending of parental characters — and also the 
. e . 129 


blending of whatever it was in the hereditary constitution 
that determined those characters. Darwin himself had 
assumed this to be true, though the results of the assumption 
puzzled him sorely And towards the end of the century this 
view still vitiated the conclusions of the school of biometri- 
cians, like Galton and Karl Pearson, who attempted to under- 
stand heredity by purely mathematical methods. It was 
reserved for Mendel to make the further decisive discovery, 
complementary to that of Weismann, that similar-looking 
individuals could yet be quite different in their hereditary 
capacities. For instance, Mendel's classical cross between 
tall and dwarf peas gave a ratio of three tails to one dwarf in 
the second generation. But when the talis were bred from, 
it was found that only one out of every three, on the average, 
would breed true; the other two, when intercrossed, once 
more threw 25 per cent, of dwarfs. Now this, of course, 
depends on the fact, familiar enough to-day, of dominance ', 
another of Mendel's discoveries. The gene for tallness is 
called dominant, but its partner, which produces dwarfness 
when in double dose — in other words when it is received 
from both parents — is recessive, which means that it does 
not show, does not produce any visible effect, when it is 
present with the dominant gene for tallness. 

However, Mendel's most fundamental discovery, on 
which indeed the whole of modern genetics rests, was that 
the basis of heredity consists of material units in the repro- 
ductive cells; that these units are self-perpetuating and self- 
copying and do not blend or get diluted when crossed; and 
that they can be recon^'bined to give new and true-breeding 
combinations. Thus, when Mendel crossed his tall and 
dwarf strains of garden peas, although the dwarf character 
disappeared in the first generation, which was all tall, some- 
thing that determined that character had not been affected, 
for perfectly normal dwarfs reappeared to make up a quarter 
of the next generation. The same thing happened to the 
greens in a cross between strains possessing yellow and green 
seeds. Mendel rightly concluded that there must be per- 
manent material units, or factors, responsible for the deter- 
mination of tallness yersus dwarfness, and of yellow seeds 
versus green seeds; that these existed in pairs in the body 



of the individual, but with only one or other of each pair 
present in the reproductive cells. The unit-factors now go 
by the more convenient name of genes^ and each gene can 
exist in different forms or %alleles y like* yelloW-determining 
versus green-determining in peas. Mendel then made a 
£rass involving two pairs of alleles — between one strain 
which was tall with green seeds by another which was dwarf 
with yellow seeds. Again the recessive characters, green and 
dwarf, disappeared in the first generation, all of which were 
tall and had yellow seeds; but in the second, not only did he 
recover the two original types, but obtained two novelties as 
well : tall yellow and green dwarf — recbmbinations, we call 
them. And some of these bred true. 

Mendel's strange sad story is well known — of how he 
published his results as far back as 1865; how none of the 
leading biologists of the time paid any attention to him or 
them; and how, sixteen years after he died, a disappointed 
man, they were unearthed independently by three biologists 
in 1900 and rightly hailed as epoch-making. The next ten 
years of research, under Bateson's leadership in England, 
established the fact that Mendelian heredity existed in every 
kind of animal and plant, and made many detailed dis- 
coveries about its workings. The decade ending in 1920 saw 
the leadership pass to America. Here, Morgan and his group 
of young men, using the ideal research material provided by 
the fruit-fly Drosophila, and supported by the results of the 
many workers who had been studying the chromosomes 
themselves under the microscope, proved once and for all 
that the chromosomes are the main organ of heredity. They 
contain the material basis of heredity, in the shape of the 
hundreds or even thousands of separate genes, arranged end 
to end in a definite order. And Mendel's laws, besides many 
other facts and rules of heredity, are due simply to the 
visible manoeuvres of the chromosomes — the way they 
behave in ordinary cell-division before the formation of 
sexual cells, and at fertilization. 

The other great advance of this period was the discovery 
of how inherited variations originate. The Morgan school 
found that new mendelizing characters — characters which 
are inherited according to Mendel's law — arise by mutation: 

• 131 


a sudden but permanent change in a gene producing an 
effect of definite extent. For example, one gene concerned in 
producing the usual red colour of the fruit-fly's eyes, mutated 
spontaneously'on a number of separate occasions to a different 
state in which it produced, or determined, white eyes. This 
same gene also, on other occasions, mutated to several ot&eV 
mutant alleles which produced different shades of pink in 
the eye. In the next ten years the rate of spontaneous muta- 
tion was measured and other kinds of mutations were dis- 
covered, for instance, mutation due to the addition or 
subtraction of whole chromosomes, or sections of chromo- 
somes, and eventually it became clear that wherever a 
mendelizing character-difference existed, it must have 
originated by mutation. 

Then Muller discovered, in 1927, how to produce muta- 
tions artificially, by means of X-rays, and at a rate several 
hundred times as great as that found in nature. We now 
know that other radiations too can provoke mutational 
changes in genes, and so can certain chemicals and probably 
other agencies. Almost invariably, the nature of the muta- 
tion, including the effect it has on its possessor, bears no 
particular relation to the agency that caused it : it looks as if 
most mutation is due to a physical or chemical shock, which 
causes a slight alteration or rearrangement of the structure 
of a gene. 

Let me now point out that Mendelism immediately ex- 
plained various everyday facts which otherwise remained a 
puzzle t on any other theory. How, for instance, can one 
account for the wide differences — many of them obviously 
of genetic origin — which are often to be seen between the 
brothers and sisters of a single human family? The mendel- 
ian answer is simple: by recombination*— recombination 
which shuffles and redistributes the parents' genes in all 
kinds of new arrangements. 

It also clears up the skipping of a generation by some 
characters, the apparent non-inheritance of genius, and in 
general the cases where children do not inherit some strongly 
marked characteristic which their parents possess. Such 
cases are puzzling only because, before Mendel had taugfit 
us how to view the material basis of heredity, people con- 



fused inheritance in the popular sense — the reappearance 
in children of characters found in their parents — with gene- 
tics in the scientific sense — the transmission and distribution 
of material units of heredity, along the strean>of the genera- 
tions. The gene for a character that skips a generation is 
frwsmitted all right, but it is recessive, so that the character 
itself cannot reappear until the second generation at earliest. 
Genius, in the proper sense of extraordinary gifts, must 
almost always be due to a recombination of genes which is, 
statistically speaking, extremely improbable. This auto- 
matically gets taken to pieces before the genius reproduces, 
so that although its constituent genes are transmitted, their 
reappearance in the same special combination is even more 
astronomically unlikely than its original emergence. And 
this is, of course, merely a special case of the general men- 
delian principle that what is transmitted in heredity is not 
the particular gene-outfits of the parents, but new rearrange- 
ments of the genes that make up those outfits. 

During the same period, every animal or plant that was 
properly investigated was found to contain a store of mutated 
genes in its chromosomes. These constitute a reserve supply 
of variability which can be drawn on to adapt the species to 
changed circumstances if need be. Meanwhile, Darwin's 
great principle of natural selection came finally into its own. 
There is nothing mysterious about natural selection. It is a 
sltorthand phrase to describe the results of the automatic and 
obvious process of differential survival ; the fact that, on the 
average, more individuals containing variations that are 
favourable in the conditions of theif life will survive'than of 
those with less favourable variations. If you plant equal 
numbers of cold-resistant and cold-susceptible plants in a 
cold climate, tfye next generation will contain more of the 
former and fewer of the latter: that is a very simple example 
of natural selection at work. Then mathematics was enlisted 
and proved that a mutation which gave its possessors even 
only a slight advantage in each generation — say i per cent., 
which means that a hundred of the mutated form would 
survive on the average, against ninety-nine of the old type — 
tfould replace the old gene and become the normal type in a 
very shotf space of time, biologically speaking. And in 



principle it became clear that mutation plus natural selection 
could account for the facts of evolution. 

The next step was the discovery that the rate of inheritable 
variation itself is under a certain degree of genetic control. 
Mutation provides the basic raw materials of evolution; 
mendelian recombination then distributes these raw mater- 
ials of change in every possible arrangement, many of them 
new and valuable. From the point of view of the species, it 
clearly matters that the rates of production and redistribu- 
tion of these units of change should neither be too low to 
risk getting caught short if change is demanded, nor too 
high to interfere with the stability of the species and its 
adjustment to current conditions. It was found that genes 
exist which regulate the rate of mutation of other genes, with 
the inevitable consequence that during evolution, mutation- 
rate has been broadly adjusted, by natural selection, to 
evolutionary needs. Then, it is obvious that different types 
of breeding system will allow different degrees of mendelian 
recombination. Thus, when there is obligatory inbreeding, 
as in plants or animals with self-fertilization or with sexual 
reproduction wholly suppressed, there can be no recombina- 
tion at all; while with obligatory wide outcrossing, as for 
instance in maize, there will be a great deal. Some species 
and groups, by cutting down the degree of outcrossing, have 
gone in for the short-range advantages of stability and of 
completeness of adaptation. But many of these are likely 'co 
die out if any marked alteration in conditions, such as a 
sharp change in climate, demands new adaptations. Most 
animate and plants have struck some degree of balance 
between stability and plasticity by adopting outcrossing 
systems which yet involve a certain .degree of inbreeding. 

So far all the discoveries I have mentioned have had to 
do with obvious mendelian genes — genes concerned with 
readily distinguishable character-differences and distributed 
according to Mendel's laws. However, two puzzles re- 
mained. One was the existence of heritable character-differ- 
ences which are not sharply marked off, but run into each 
other — so-called continuous characters like human stature, 
for instance. Quite recently, however, by rather complicated 
experiments with the exceptionally favourable material pro- 



vided by Drosophila, it has been shown that the factors 
responsible for such characters are mendelian in the sense 
that they are lodged in the chromosomes, but that they act in 
co-operating groups, each member of a group exerting a 
small quantitative effort, plus or minus, on some continuous 
or ^quantitative character, like size, or proportions, or fer- 
tility. Because there are always many similar units at work in 
a group, they have been styled polygenes. The single factors 
in any group of polygenes cannot be isolated by ordinary 
mendelian methods. However, the knowledge that they are 
lodged in the chromosomes, and so must be subject to 
mendelian principles in their transmission, makes it possible 
to use the mathematical methods invented by the bio- 
metricians half a century ago, to make much more accurate 
estimates of their distribution and behaviour in heredity. 
And this discovery turns out to be of some practical im- 

The second pu7zle, of methods of inheritance that cannot 
possibly be fitted into the mendelian scheme, has also quite 
recently been solved in principle. They are due to the exist- 
ence of genes outside the nucleus, in the general protoplasm 
of the cell, and therefore called plasmagenes. Since plasma- 
genes are loose in the cell, not joined up to form super-units 
of accurate composition like the genes in the chromosomes, 
the number of them in any one cell can vary and their 
distribution to later generations does not follow the regu- 
larities of the mendelian laws. Perhaps the most striking 
examples of plasmagenes are those associated with the bodies 
which contain the green chlorophyll' of plants — the piastids. 
They are self-copying and occasionally mutate, and so are 
clearly genie in nature, though they are subject to a certain 
amount of contrpl by the main body of genes in the chromo- 
somes. Although plasmagenes play only a small and sub- 
sidiary role in heredity as a whole, the discovery of their 
existence enables us to fit various otherwise puzzling facts 
into the modern extended gene-theory of genetics. 

A very spectacular recent step in the progress of genetics 
has been the discovery of the chemical nature of genes. 
Through the use of X-ray analysis, spectography under the 
microscope, and microchemical methods, we now know that 

- r 35 


genes consist of certain kinds of protein in association with 
certain kinds of nucleic acids; for brevity's sake, we call 
them nucleoproteins. The nucleic acid is a necessary part of 
the mechanism by which the cqpying gets done. Darlington 
calls it the midwife molecule for the birth of new genes. It 
seems to act as a sort of chemical template, closely applied 
to the elongated protein molecule, and somehow helping it 
to assemble new atoms into the same shape and pattern as 
itself. Particles of purified extracts of nucleic acid can even 
penetrate into the interior of some kinds of bacteria and 
there can permanently replace certain of their genes — a 
genetic transformation effected by chemical means. Further- 
more, nucleic acids of one sort or another constitute the 
essential basis of viruses. Some plant viruses can be obtained 
as pure crystalline nucleoproteins; the protein component 
seems to be merely protective, while infection and further 
reproduction depend on the nucleic acid component alone. 
Our knowledge of the material basis of heredity has pene- 
trated below the biological to the more basic chemical level. 
Clearly an almost unlimited new field has been opened up to 
scientific exploration. Indeed, the advance of genetics has 
led us towards the central secret of life itself, for after all the 
essential property of life, which distinguishes it from not-life, 
is the possession of an organization capable of reproducing 
or copying itself. 

Fifty years ago we knew nothing worth knowing abdut 
the material basis of heredity. To-day it is revealed as a vast 
system of self-copying units of nucleoprotein, most of them 
elaborately integrated in the highly organized structures 
called chromosomes. 



T^here is a Japanese legend which tells of the sequel to 
• the struggle for supremacy, during the twelfth century 
a.d., of two leading feudal families, the Heike and the Genji. 
The struggle ended in 1 155 with the overwhelming victory 
of the Genji in the naval battle of Dan-no-ura, off the south- 
west tip of the country. The defeated Heike, true to the 
Samurai tradition, committed mass suicide by throwing 
themselves into the sea. Immediately •afterwards, all the 
crabs of the region appeared stamped with the face of a 
resentful Japanese warrior, thus reincarnating the dead 
Heike nobles. The face-bearing crabs are called Heike-gani 
or Heike crabs ; the Japanese will not eat them to this day, 
and an exceptionally homely or ugly man is likely to be told 
"You look like a Heike-Gani." 

That is the legend. The facts are that the Heike were 
defeated at Dan-no-ura; that the crab Dorippe japonica, 
which is widespread in Japanese waters, is called Heike-gani 
and does bear on its carapace the exact likeness of a medieval 
Japanese warrior; and that, though edible, it is not eaten by 
the Japanese. Professor Yamayita, of the Institute of Folk- 
lore in Tokyo, tells me that in past centuries it was some- 
times called Oni-gani, oni meaning a frightening kind of 
demon who may also be the spirit of a dead man. 

Professor H. J. Muller, the eminent American biologist, 
showed me a specimen which he brought back from a* recent 
visit to Japan. He agrees with me that Dorippe provides the 
only known case of the mimicry of man by another species 
of animal. It mgy, however, be mentioned that the white 
mark on the back of the common European garden spider 
is quite definitely a cross, and the resemblance may quite 
possibly have been of advantage in causing people to think 
twice about killing this kind of spider; anyhow, as Dr 
• Bristow, our great authority on spiders, tells me, it was in 
many places considered unlucky to do so, and this would 
h4ve polished up any original rough cruciform pattern into 
a more detailed and striking resemblance. We would not 
e* 137 


expect to find this selective superstition or such a close 
resemblance in Moslem countries; but, unfortunately, the 
range of the species is exclusively Christian ! 

The resemblance of Dorifipe to an angry traditional 
Japanese warrior is far too specific and far too detailed to be 
merely accidental : it is a specific adaptation, which can eniy 
have been brought about by means of natural selection 
operating over centuries of time, the crabs with a more 
perfect resemblance having been less eaten. 

This statement is usually greeted with incredulity by the 
layman, but there are large numbers of equally improbable 
likenesses in biology which undoubtedly owe their evolu- 
tionary origin to selection — the astonishing resemblance of 
leaf-insects to leaves, of stick-insects to sticks, of flower- 
spiders and flower-mantises to flowers, or various harmless 
moths and beetles and other insects to wasps and hornets, 
and so forth. In all such cases, it can now be taken as estab- 
lished that the precision of the likeness is due to the action 
of natural selection — in other words that over many genera- 
tions those individuals which happened to look a little more 
like their models survived and reproduced themselves on 
the average a little more often than those which looked less 
like the models. It can be demonstrated that even a very 
small biological advantage will in the course of generations 
add up to produce a ljirge and striking result. 

The objections raised against the idea that such strari'ge 
resemblances are of biological advantage to their possessors 
and are therefore due to the action of natural selection run 
something like this: How can the animal know what it ought 
to look like? and even if it did know, how could it manage 
to achieve the likeness? Or contrariwise, as Humpty Dumpty 
would have said, the likeness is just an accident, and has no 
significance for its possessor. Or alternatively, the likeness is 
miraculously exact, but how could it have been produced 
except by some omnipotent divinity who has thought up 
these striking methods of demonstrating his powers? 

The answer to the first objection is very simple — the 
animal doesn't know anything about it; and even if it did, no 
efforts on its part could help to bring about the likene&s. 
Evolutionary transformation does not occur as a result of an 


life's improbable likenesses 

animal's wishes or efforts. One major result of the modern 
science of genetics is a negative one — that the effects of 
disuse or of changes in the environment (like heat or cold or 
moisture, still less the sighfc or leaves or sticks) just aren't 
inherited. Its main positive upshot is as follows: that evolu- 
tionary change occurs through the natural selection of herit- 
able variations or mutations; that mutations are due to 
chemical changes in the material units of heredity, the genes; 
that most mutations are harmful or yseless, but the rare 
favourable ones are automatically preserved and incorporated 
in the race, just because they are favourable — their possessors 
survive and reproduce themselves a little more often. 

The difficulty about the start of any such process is a 
more real one. The variations that actually get used by 
natural selection seem almost invariably to be small muta- 
tions, with quite slight effects on the animal's or plant's 
visible characters. That being so, now could we conceive 
that the first steps in the direction of a human face, for 
instance, could have been any use to our crabs? For clearly 
people are not going to be put off eating a creature by super- 
stitious fears unless there is some fairly striking reason. 

The answer of modern evolutionary theory is that in such 
cases natural selection has merely operated to polish up a 
prior condition which was purely accidental: and luckily for 
evolutionary theory, wc can often point to the existence of 
accidental predispositions of this sort. In crabs, for instance, 
the back of the carapace is usually not smooth, but embossed 
in relief with bumps and depressions (which are related to 
the underlying structure of the body); and not infrequently 
the pattern thus produced bears a rough (and doubtless 
quite accidental) resemblance to some object or other, and 
in several cases to a human face. 

On English shores there is a little crab of the genus 
Corystes, the pattern of whose shell is sufficiently like a 
human face for the species to have been given the specific 
name cassivelaunus, after the chieftain who led the ancient 
• Britons against Julius Caesar. But the likeness is never more 
than a rough one, and in any case, Corystes is a very small 
crab which is not used as food by human beings. The result 
is that the*esemblance has not only stayed rough, but is very 

• 139 


variable, some crabs showing scarcely any likeness to a face. 
However, it is easy to conceive of an accidental resemblance, 
no better than the best among Corystes, which would be 
capable of afousing superstitious fear and wonder — how 
could a human face get imprinted on a crab's back unless 
some god or devil had put it there with some mysterious 
intent? And then the rest would follow automatically. The 
crabs which were more like a face, especially more like a face 
typical of the local culture, would tend to be spared, while 
their less miraculous brothers and sisters would continue to 
be eaten, until in the course of the generations (remember 
that perhaps a thousand would be available for our species, 
for an effective resemblance must have been in existence 
long before the battle of Dan-no-ura) the crude and acci- 
dental original had been polished up into the truly astonish- 
ing likeness of an ancient Samurai which the crabs now bear. 

In passing, there is a possible way of testing the validity 
of this conclusion. If Dorippe japonica has a wide geograph- 
ical range, we may expect that the crabs that live on the 
shores of other human cultures either gain no protection 
from the pattern of their carapace, in which case the re- 
semblance to a human face will be much less exact; or they 
do gain protection, when we may prophesy that the re- 
semblance will be an exact one, but will be to some rather 
different human type, and certainly not to a specifically 
Japanese warrior. 

To return for a moment to Corystes, this little crab, 
though its resemblance to a human face is not adaptive, has 
another peculiarity which admirably illustrates both the way 
in which an extremely beautiful adaptation can be built up 
from non-adaptive beginnings, and also the specific nature 
of adaptation. In place of the short thread-like feelers of 
ordinary crabs, spaced somewhat apart on the head, the 
antennae of Corystes are longer than its whole body, are 
pressed together, and project directly forward — or rather 
upwards, for the animal lives throughout the day buried in 
the sand in an upright position, with nothing showing but 
the very tip of the antennae. This mode of life is an adapta- 
tion to escape the attention of skates and other predatory 
fish; at night Corystes comes out and crawls over *he surface 


life's improbable likenesses 

of the sand to forage. And the antennae are an adaptation to 
the mode of life : with the aid of interlocking stiff hairs along 
their edges, they form a tube through which the animal can 
breathe, drawing in a current of clean water through the 
sand to be passed over the gills. The adaptation is highly 
specific to burrowing in sand: in mud it would be no good, 
but would clog up. Mud-living crustaceans live in burrows, 
and draw in currents of water down the burrows by con- 
stantly vibrating the swimmerets on their abdomen. 

The antennae of ordinary crabs have nothing to do with 
breathing: but it only needed comparatively small changes 
to adapt them to a respiratory function-.— less space between 
them, an increase of their length, and the enlargement of the 
hairs on their fore and aft margins. 

The point I want to make is that practically all the char- 
acteristics of an animal are adaptive — in other words, have 
been moulded by natural selection so as to perform some 
special function. And this applies as much to an animal's 
appearance as to its construction or its inherited patterns of 
behaviour. The difference is that the appearance is generally 
adjusted to the sense-organs and habits of some other 
creature, either the prey that the animal needs to catch or 
the enemies from whom it needs to escape. And of course 
some adaptations are more curious and surprising than 
others — certainly the adaptation of Dorippe to not being 
esften by Japanese is one of the most curious that we know. 

However, there arc plenty of other equally surprising 
examples of animals or plants acquiring a resemblance to 
other animals or plants, or to inanimate objects. • 

Most people know of walking-stick insects; but there are 
in reality many insects of many different groups, from grass- 
hoppers to moth caterpillars, which look like twigs. As for 
leaf-insects, their number is legion. Some are like one big 
green leaf, others like scattered bits of foliage; some like 
just-dead leaves, others like dead leaves with mould-spots 
and holes in them, others like half-decayed leaves. And there 
are also leaf-frogs and leaf-toads, and, most curious of all, 
a leaf-fish in the Amazon, Monocirrhus, which gets within 
striking distance of its prey by looking precisely like a dead 
leaf drifting in the current. 



The leaf-fish Monoclrrhus escapes detection by its prey by looking like a dead 
leaf drifting in the current. Note the imitation stalk, leaf-tip and mid-rib. 

Then there are the insects of the family Membracidae. 
These are all defenceless little plant-bugs which spend most 
of their time in exposed situations on the twigs or leaves of 
plants, sucking the sap, so that they are in considerable need 
of protection from hungry predators. Furthermore, they all 
have a large hood-like outgrowth on the fore-part of their 
thorax, whose primary function is not known, but which 
provides excellent raw material for developing a resemblance 
to various non-edible objects, often masking the whole body 
underneath. Thus in some membracids the outgrowth has 
been elongated fore-and-aft to look like a grass-seed; in 
others it has been moulded into one or more sharp hooks, 'so 
that the creatures appear exactly like thorns; in one it is 
orange-coloured, hollow, and enormously swollen, completely 
hiding the rest of the animal, and has achieved a striking 
resemblance to the chrysalis of a moth, whose brilliant orange 
colour is known to be a warning signal of nauseous taste; in 
another it has been flattened from side topside, expanded, 
and coloured green, so that the creature bears a strong 
resemblance to a leaf-cutter ant carrying back to the nest a 
piece of green leaf which it has bitten off a neighbouring 
tree; in some, it has been turned into the semblance of a bit 
of bark. In others, into a sweeping sickle-shaped structure, 
resembling nobody knows what; and finally, in the most 
curious case of all, Heteronotus, it has been enlarged and 
moulded into the semblance of a worker-ant, of t a species 


life's improbable likenesses 

which is abundant in the bug's surroundings. Of course it is 
only a hollow shell, concealing the animal's real body; but 
from above the resemblance to an ant is amazing, and, since 
ants, with their gregarious habits, their powerful bite, and 
their reservoirs of formic acid, are well protected against 
mqpt insectivorous creatures, it must be of great biological 
advantage to the plant-bug. 

Ants indeed are commonly mimicked by quite a number 
of ground-living insects besides plant-bugs — beetles, two- 
winged flies, and grasshoppers — and by spiders. I myself 
have been doubly deceived by a spider's ant-mimicry. On an 
island in Lake Victoria in Central Afric^, I had my attention 
forcibly directed to the tree-ants which swarmed over the 
dense vegetation, because every time I accidentally got one 
on my person, it inflicted a painful bite. Suddenly I noticed 
one give a somewhat un-antlike jump; on inspection, it 
turned out to be a spider. This was the first example of 
ant-mimicry by spiders which I had seen, and I set about 
trying to find some more specimens. After some searching 
I discovered what I thought was another: but when I had 
got it safely into a glass tube it turned out to be an ant ! 

How is a spider to look like an ant when an ant has a pair 
of antennae on its head and only six legs on its body, while 
a spider has eight legs and no antennae? What is more, how 
is a spider going to acquire the long slender waist of an ant? 
What happens is very illuminating. In general, spiders that 
mimic ants first of all become more elongated. Secondly, the 
front pair of legs are placed farther forward than usual, and 
are not used for walking, but are held out in front sp as to 
look like feelers. And thirdly, a waist is "painted in" by 
making the sides of the middle part of the body light- 
coloured so that they do not catch the eye, while a central 
narrow dark band with a dark oval patch behind gives an 
excellent imitation of an ant's waist and hind abdomen. 

This sort of visual deception is very commonly employed 
to obtain a resemblance. The same trick of painting in a 
waist is often used by the beetles and grasshoppers which 
mimic ants, and equally by those numerous chunky-bodied 
insects which mimic wasps. 

Amon^butterflies which escape detection by looking like 



dead leaves, patches of mould are often imitated by spots of 
special colour, and holes in the leaf by wing-patches which 
are transparent because no scales are produced on them. In 
the extraordinary Draconia, not only is this device used, but 
the wings grow with irregular edges, giving an exact imita- 
tion of a half-decayed leaf. f . 

Similarly, fish that escape detection by looking like marine 
vegetation are generally beset with weed-like outgrowths. 
The Australian sea-horse Phyllopteryx has become quite 
fantastic in this way,*looking like a surrealist's idea of a cross 
between animal and vegetable, with imitations of three 
quite different kinds of seaweed sprouting from various parts 
of its body. 

Perhaps the most curious of such deceptions is shown in 
the resemblance of various insects and spiders to a bird's 
dropping. The creature often manages to imitate the viscid 
soft appearance of a dropping so perfectly that the eye is 
completely deceived, and it is easier to use touch to decide 
whether the object is an animal or a piece of excrement. 

Such examples completely dispose of the idea that the 
protective resemblances of animals can be due to the direct 
effect of the conditions of the environment. This is also 
borne out by various facts of true mimicry, when a harmless 
and palatable animal gains a biological advantage by looking 
like some other animal which is relatively immune from 
attack owing to its possession of a formidable weapon, like 
the sting of a wasp or the bite of a poisonous snake or the 
jaws and formic acid of an ant, or to its having a nauseous 
taste, eften coupled with general toughness and inedibility, 
as in the milkweed butterfly, various swallow-tails, and many 
other brightly coloured butterflies. Here it often happens 
that the two animals, mimic and model, owe their similar 
appearance to quite different means. Thus the pigments 
used to produce the sham warning colours of edible butter- 
fly mimics are often chemically quite different from those 
used to produce the real warning colours of their models. 

The converse proof is provided by the numerous cases 
where the biologically advantageous resemblance is only 
evolved where it will i>e seen, like the grasshopper which 
imitates a decaying green leaf, but not with those parts of its 


Some crabs, like Corystes casuvelaunus> happen to show a crude 
resemblance to a human face. 

Starting from such crude accidental resemblance, the I lei kc Crabs 
from Japan have achieved a startling likeness to the face of a 
Japanese Samurai fighter — so startling thai the} are regarded .is 
reincarnations of dead warriors, and are never eaten. 

Moth into ,i pulict unit ition ot i sidi twit; on i bnmh 

1» I Mi urn I \ iUi il \\t t r\ 

\nts in kit iloiu In most titers uior hnt»K, llu \ ue iminnLd In \ irnui 
li mnliss him its and sj iiUrs 

/k< I his litth Mtmhiuul pi mt bun {lltti xwtu ) i ioni|kuh 
lonieiled iioin \ie\\ In a liollow c\iriM«iui on its th u i\ wlmli 

• from above looks i \aith like .in .ml 

*Ut/ou Spiilns nu\ mimic, ants In elongating the. ir hod), gnmmc 1 
waist in J holding tlmr limit leys in tin position of m ant's antenna 

77 t y» i I S /> mi 

VI t £/ // S /> //< 

Aboie I Ik hmnless C learvung moth Ins lost t lie si lies on its wintis, 
tapered its .ibdoinui, ind buomts 10 oured in blaek .md w llov\ Lin Us <> is to 
resemble a 1 1 or nit 


BeloL. I Ins small butkrrh has doclopid a hi*, front it tin hind ionu # r 
of Us wings, complete with falsi head, false c\i and filst anknnai, to 
deflect the attacks of predators from its true head, v\huh is lonuilid 
b<t\wen tlu protruding antirior m»rgins of its fort vwngs 

I he lolour iml marking of tin luukmotli \tinthnpan mut s atn <_\<utl\ 
tin bark on whuli 11 lots, but onl\ it it iliyns hsl If in tin n«ht ilirution 

J'Iil position adopted b\ the Garden Carpet Moth {\anthon hue fhntuatd) 
ilso makes it virtnallv indistmgu] habit from tht lulun pattlud Mirf.iu on 
v\ hit h it spends the dd\ 

4b< t Mo t dt-vrt j. lints jroUil ihcmsiJws from bun., i ikn b\ w nmm 
toimidibli spins but in st< n\ disut sonic, , do « In lmititm 

ton*, or } cbblt 

yy,/^ Sunn lnnnils h< w the urn id q t Hi >n I he h n hop i r Inm 
/uu fnni the M^crnn d« i rt re i mblt i vMitlund In nu nt (f sunt 
in t< nn mlmr ind totim llu outlnu of tin li is di >,iii td b\ i fnlK Hi| 
which is jnsscd unnst tlu b(dv, md it m\ thri it t lm it ii Iki/i 
ind tin mknnu which nnjit oihi-i\Msi w u m tin Ki d out c t ijit 

life's improbable likenesses 

wings which are concealed when at rest. This is on a par 
witl| the fact that a white actor playing Othello blacks only 
his face and hands, and is what one would expect on a 
selective interpretation. 

In butterflies and moths, an adaptive transparency of the 
wings has been produced in several quite different ways. In 
•*he Hornet Clearwing hawk-moth, the scales are only loosely 
attached, and fall off soon after the moth emerges from its 
chrysalis; but in other cases the scales are much reduced 
in number or in size, or are converted into thin hair-like 
structures, or are set up on end so as to let the light pass 

The clearwing has an astonishing resemblance to a hornet, 
not only in its general form and its transparent wings and 
black-and-yellow colouration, but also in the way it flies, 
and the fact that it flies by day instead of by night. The 
resemblance not only deceives most human beings, but also 
the creatures that would otherwise eat the moth. Lizards, 
for instance, which have learnt the meaning of the yellow- 
and-black danger-signals so common in nature, refuse clear- 
wings equally with wasps and hornets. Indeed, as Cott has 
shown in his fine book, Adaptive Colouration in Animals^ 
the experimental evidence for the biological value of warning 
colouration and mimicry is now conclusive. 

The diurnal habits of the Hornet Clearwing arc a reminder 
fhat behaviour 4s well as structure or colouration usually 
needs to be changed to secure an effective resemblance. Thus 
the wonderful resemblance of the hawk-moth Xanthopan to 
the bark of a tree, based on its general colour anA by the 
dark lines that simulate cracks in the bark, would not be 
achieved unless the creature always settled with its head 
pointing vertically upwards. On the other hand, the equally 
striking resemblance to bark of the Garden Carpet-Moth, 
XanthorrhoB) depends on the animal settling horizontally. 

Creatures that escape detection by their resemblance to 
twigs spend all the daytime grasping a branch, immobile 
and rigid, and only move about to feed when darkness falls. 

Spiders that mimic ants walk and behave like ants as well 
as looking like them (indeed one South American species 
adds to the picture by walking around holding over itself the 



dead body of a real ant, so that it looks like a worker ant 
carrying a dead comrade); many insects which mimic sing- 
ing models like bees and wasps curve their abdomen round 
when seized, threatening their captor with a non-existent 

Even the highest vertebrates, like birds, may have their 
behaviour thus modified. The common nightjar escape^ 
detection while brooding by crouching immobile, and so 
looking just like part of the floor of dead leaves on which its 
nest is placed. But the South American nightjar Nyctibius 
lays its eggs in the cavity of a broken stump; and the bird 
broods in a strange unbirdlike posture, rigid and erect, with 
eyes almost closed, in which it looks exactly like a continua- 
tion of the stump. Even when not nesting, it roosts during 
the daytime in this position, sometimes in full view on top 
of a fence-post; and even then is practically invisible. 

The most extraordinary of all such cases is that of a kind 
of shrike, whose nestlings combine forces to produce a 
deceptive likeness. If a potential enemy comes near the nest 
while the parents are away, the nestlings all elongate them- 
selves upwards, at the same time leaning together; the 
group, "frozen" immobile in this position, looks like a 
broken-ofF branch, the combined beaks simulating the 
angular edge of the break. 

There is only one other example of combined mimicry 
known to me. When Professor Gregory, his journey to 
the Rift Valley of Kenya, started to pick a specimen of a new 
plant, all its flowers flew away! These flowers were really 
Flatid -plant-bugs of one of the species of the genus 
Phromnia, which have the instinct to perch in company 
on upright stems. What is more, thejr come in two colours, 
pink and green, so that the green ones look like buds and 
the pink ones like opened flowers. Other Flatids also escape 
detection by simulating flower-spikes, but this species has 
adopted the added refinement of imitating both buds and 

Birds also afford examples of true mimicry. Thus the 
inoffensive orioles of the Malay archipelago mimic what 
Alfred Russel Wallace described as the "noisy and power- 
ful" friar-birds of the region— each group of islands having 


lifl's improbabll liken essls 

The South American nightjar Nyctittus grtscus nests on the top of a stump, 
out of reach of ground prowlers. To escape detection by other enemies, it 
broods throughout the dav without moving, with its head pointing upwards, 
when it looks exactly like the eontmuation of the stump 



a model and a mimic of identical appearance, the orioles 
always developing a ruff or cowl of feathers like their mo/dels. 
Though the black patches of bare skin round the friar-birds' 
eyes are counterfeited by black. feathers in the orioles, the 
resemblance is so close as to have taken in professional 
ornithologists. The drongos of Central Africa are not only 
bold and powerful, but their flesh is unpalatable; and they 
are mimicked by several different kinds of birds — so success- 
fully that when Swynnerton offered the mimics to his hungry 
cat, they were decisively rejected. 

However, the most interesting examples of mimicry in 
birds concerns the eggs of cuckoos. As is well-known, some 
cuckoos, like cowbirds, are reproductive parasites, laying 
their eggs in the nests of other birds and leaving the young 
to be brought up by the foster-parents. And the eggs of such 
species are often extremely like those of the fosterer. Further- 
more, when a species of cuckoo parasitizes a fosterer which 
is much smaller than itself, it lays eggs much smaller than is 
normal for a bird of its size, almost as small as those of the 
fosterer. Finally, when, as in the common European cuckoo, 
the species is divided into a number of strains, each parasit- 
izing a different species of small bird, the eggs of the differ- 
ent strains are different, and are usually close mimics of the 
fosterer's eggs in colour and pattern as well as size. How- 
ever, there are one or. two exceptions: for instance, the 
Hedge-Sparrow lays pure blue eggs, but Hedge-Sparrofr 
cuckoos lay spotted greyish eggs. That this is not due to an 
inherent inability to produce blue eggs is shown by a strain 
of cucIpoos in Northern* Europe, which lay unspotted blue 
eggs in the nests of blue-egged birds like Wheatear and 

To understand how these resemblances could have been 
brought about, we will jump for a moment to the plant 
kingdom. There is a variety (or possibly a distinct species) 
of the plant Camelina which is round nowhere else but in 
flax-fields. Its chief difference from its nearest wild relative 
is its small seeds, which are of the same size as flax seeds. 
Flax seed is harvested for sowing by sifting through a fine 
sieve: and so the Camelina seeds pass through too and are 
sown next year with the flax. What has happened is obvious. 


life's improbable likenesses 

Quite automatically, in each generation, the bigger Camelina 
seeds were sifted out of the crop of flax seed, while the 
smallest ones were sifted in — until finally only those strains 
which produced small seeds were left, and the small-seeded 
variety became a reproductive parasite of cultivated flax, or 
it might be better to say a parasite of man, since it depends 
8n man's agricultural labours. 

+An the case of cuckoos, the sifting is done by the host 
species, which is liable either to turn a strange egg out (or 
to desert), if it is too unlike its own. Thus a strain of cuckoos 
which lays smaller eggs will have a better chance of being 
perpetuated, and so will one whose •eggs bear some re- 
semblance to those of the host. However, different host 
species vary in discrimination, and only when they are very 
particular will selection see to it that the resemblance be- 
comes really close. The Hedge-Sparrow is known to be highly 
tolerant of strange objects in its nest: so here there was no 
handle for selection to bring about a close resemblance. 

In passing, though a defenceless mimi^: usually counter- 
feits the visual appearance of a model, it may sometimes 
imitate its sound. The rattling of the rattlesnake is an 
auditory warning which serves to scare away animals that 
might tread on it, as well as predators that might otherwise 
eat it. And one quite harmless species of snake has de- 
veloped a small tattle that serves the same function as the 
counterfeit red, black, and white of the harmless False 
Coral Snake, which imitates the warning colouration of the 
highly poisonous true Coral Snake. 

A great many snakes hiss by way of warning; an^quite a 
number of harmless creatures make use of hissing to scare 
their enemies by pretending that they are snakes. The most 
curious exampje is that of the wryneck, a small European 
bird related to the woodpeckers, and like them nesting in 
holes. When an intruder tries to enter a wryneck's nest, the 
sitting bird flattens itself against the side of the hole, then 
presses up towards the enemy with a strangely snake-like 
motion, and finally shoots back, emitting a completely snake- 
like hiss. The first time I saw this performance, even though 
I was prepared for it and was actually seeing the bird after 
taking t|je lid off the nest-box in which she was brooding, it 



was quite startling and indeed disconcerting: it must have 
an overwhelming effect on a small egg-stealing mammAl in 
the darkness of the bird's natural nest. 

I shall come back to the imitation of snakes and other 
reptiles: but meanwhile I must just mention a few others of 
the more fantastic resemblances that natural selection has 
brought about. 

One of the best is the reversed butterfly trick. Some little 
butterflies belonging to the family of the Blues, or Lyc&en- 
idae, have "tails" on their hind-wings which, when the 
creature is at rest, look like antennae, and are moved up and 
down to increase thcresemblance. The angle of the wing is 
scalloped out to look like a butterfly's head, and on it is a 
conspicuous spot which simulates an eye. The real head with 
the real eyes and antennae is practically hidden by a forward 
curve of the fore-wings, and the underside of the wings bears 
a pattern of stripes which forces attention on the sham head 
by converging upon it. The biological reason for this 
elaborate deception is of course to ensure that if a hungry 
bird or lizard does find the butterfly, it should snap at the 
wrong end. If so, all it is likely to get is a dusty mouthful of 
scales, or possibly a dry bit of wing, while the insect flies 
off little the worse. 

Many butterflies, including a number of Blues, are known 
to deflect the attack of their predators £y means of con- 
spicuous tails or "eye"-spots near the hind edge of thefr 
hind-wings, and the complete false head is merely an 
elaboration built on this foundation. 

Mos? of my examples "have had to do with the protection 
of edible animals from attack: but of course similar devices 
may be equally well employed by predators to help them 
secure their prey. The most wonderful of such aggressive 
deceivers are the flower-mantises and flower-spiders. These 
are all brilliantly coloured, but are not conspicuous because 
their colours match those of the flowers in which they sit all 
day waiting for unwary insect visitors. There are many 
different species of many colour-patterns, but the colour- 
patterns have always been adjusted by natural selection to 
the particular kind of flower that they frequent. For instance, 
in Manila there is a beautiful white spider with yellow legs 


life's improbable likenesses 

which lies in wait in white lily flowers with yellow stamens. 
Agiun, the Malayan flower-mantis Hymcnopus refuses to 
take up its station except in the flower-clusters of a particular 
kind of rhododendron, whjch it matches to perfection with 
its colouration of pale pink and pearl white, with a dis- 
ruptive band of leaf-green across its thorax. Of course, these 
• Resemblances may, and generally do, have the second func- 
tion of concealing the spider or mantis from its own numer- 
ous enemies. 

Sometimes the animal even constructs a background for 
itself. Thus Azilia, a Guianan spider, sits in invisibility on a 
little carpet of bits of bark and lichens that it has built in the 
middle of its web. 

The example of Camelina shows that seed-size can be 
adjusted to that of another species by natural selection ; but 
other plants have their whole visible appearance changed. 
Lithops is a succulent plant, related to the Mesembryanthe- 
mums, which lives in South- West Africa: and, like other 
succulents of the same region, it is practically indistinguish- 
able both in form and colouration from the stones and 
pebbles of its desert habitat. (And so, by the way, are some 
of the desert grasshoppers.) 

But the most remarkable plant examples are to be found 
among the orchids. The flowers of various smaller orchids 
are so like insecte that the plants have been named after 
Ae resemblanc^flike the Fly Orchid in Britain. Until quite 
recently it was always suppobed that this was something 
quite accidental, just a by-product of the general construc- 
tion of orchid flowers, and of no biological advantage to the 
plant. However, it has now been proved up to the hilt that 
it is a device for securing cross-pollination. The flowers (or 
rather the lips <jf the flowers) of each of these mimetic orchids 
imitates the female of a particular species of insect, in appear- 
ance and sometimes also in smell. The male insects are taken 
in, and attempt to mate with the imitation females provided 
by the orchid. In the process, pollen is transferred from one 
flower to another, and the orchids are fertilized! 

Archdeacon Paley in his celebrated Evidences of Christianity, 
which was for so long a set book for all students at Cam- 
bridge, maintained the thesis that all adaptations were evi- 



dencesof deliberate design on the part of a Divine Designer. 
I cannot help wondering what he would have said about 
the Divine purpose behind the design of these bogus sexual 
attractions, and whether perhaps Jie would not have welcomed 
Darwin's great intuition, as having freed God from the re- 
sponsibility for all the biological gadgets — some admirable, 
some monstrous, and some just queer — that the automatitr 
mechanism of natural selection has ground out during the 
process of evolution. ' 

I have kept to the last some counterfeit faces to show that 
even if Dorippe provides a unique case of an animal gaining 
a biological advantage by mimicking a man, there are other 
just as astonishing examples of a mimetic likeness to other 

It is a well-known fact that an eye-spot has a powerful 
psychological effect on animals as well as on people. Accord- 
ingly we find eye-spots used over and over again to focus 
attention on one part of the body, as on the wings of many 
butterflies, or on the display plumage of various male birds. 
But of course the effect can be strengthened and made more 
terrifying when the eye is in a fierce face. The terrifying 
effect of real eyes in a real face is utilized in the threatening 
displays of many birds, like owls, and many mammals, like 
baboons. In some of the latter, the horrifying effect is en- 
hanced not only by the-ivory colour of tjje gums, revealed 
as the creature bares its teeth, but by an ivory-white patch 6f 
skin that it exposes above its eye. Quite often, however, the 
same effect is achieved by sham eyes in a false face. Various 
large n!l)th caterpillars, when alarmed, swell out the forepart 
of their body into an imitation snake's head, bearing on its 
sides two eye-spots which are concealed when the creature 
is in its normal position. The imitation is sometimes very 
close; but even a rough one, with the staring eye-spots and 
the threatening movements of the animal, is quite frighten- 
ing enough to repel most potential enemies. 

The caterpillar of the puss-moth produces a false face in 
quite a different way. It draws in and flattens its head in such 
a way that it presents a mask-like surface adorned with two 
little false eyes. The fact is not the face of any particular 
animal, just a miniature vertebrate face. Meanwhile the 


life's improbable likenesses 

animal adds to its terrifying qualities by sticking up its 
forked tail and protruding from it two waving scarlet threads. 

However, one of the lantern-bugs of South America has 
produced a complete sham t head whose resemblance to an 
alligator is just as astonishing as that of Dorippe to a 
Samurai. The counterfeit protrudes in front of the insect's 
•ifial head. It is olive-brown in colour, with one protuberance 
secying for counterfeit nose, a pair farther back for eyes. The 
nosfe has a pair of black patches for nostrils, while the black 
"eyes" are painted in complete with a white patch to imitate 
light falling on the eyeball. Finally, there is a sham mouth, 
complete with sham teeth, ivory-white and actually standing 
out in relief! A marmoset or lizard which suddenly came upon 
this apparition would certainly get a good fright, and would 
not be likely to reflect that baby alligators would not be 
likely to be crawling about in the foliage of trees. 

The natural question to ask is how did such a resemblance 
start? As with the Japanese crab, the answer is ready to 
hand: there existed a prior structure wljich could fairly 
easily be converted into the required resemblance. All the 
members of one sub-family of lantern-bugs have a huge 
hollow outgrowth on the front of their head. No one knows 
what its primary function is: but it has the general shape of 
a reptilian head, and needs only a little touching up to begin 
looking like a fierce face. 

• But the precision of the resemblance could quite certainly 
not have been attained without the operation of natural 
selection over many generations : the odds against anything 
so detailed and so accurate being due to chance ^are as 
astronomical as they would be against a monkey with a 
typewriter producing a Shakespeare sonnet. And that holds 
for Dorippe too*— if its resemblance to the medieval Japanese 
idea of a savage warrior is mere accident, we can give up 
trying to find any sense or order in nature. 

However, the resemblance is quite certainly not acci- 
dental, but brought about by natural selection, that blind, 
surprising and potent force implicit in the very nature of life 
itself. The results of natural selection demonstrate the un- 
predictability and the amazing potentialities of nature. 
Natural selection can only generate consequences of im- 



mediate biological utility: and yet over the generations it 
produces results of almost infinite variety and fantastic 
improbability — but still in the highest degree orderly, and 
comprehensible by those willing to make the effort to 
comprehend. The incredible resemblances which it brings 
into being are reminders of the basic fact that nature is 
miraculous — in the proper sense of the word, namely th3t' 
it provokes our admiration and our wonder. 

Nature is indeed orderly, but its order transcends 'our 
most disorderly imaginations: that is the lesson to be learnt 
from life's improbable resemblances. 



In Iceland, in the summer of 1949, a number of new facts 
and experiences, interesting and exciting to a naturalist, 
tame my way — some of them through my own eyes, others 
thuqugh the mouths of the able Icelandic zoologists who put 
so much of their time and knowledge at the disposition of 
my companion James Fisher and myself. 

Thus we saw various species that were new to us, and 
sometimes spectacular, like the harlequin duck. That was 
exciting enough; but the interest was multiplied when we 
remembered that it is an essentially North American bird, 
one of the rarest stragglers to Europe, and yet here breeding 
close to familiar British ducks like mallard, tufted duck, 
widgeon, and pintail. We found a meadow pipit breeding in 
a wood, like a tree pipit, instead of on the customary open 
heath; and what is more, singing a song halfway to a tree 
pipit's. We saw some local birds recognizably different from 
their British congeners, like the Iceland redshank, which is 
several shades darker than ours. We saw a Painted Lady 
butterfly in the northern half of the island — a truly astonish- 
ing sight, since its nearest permanent breeding-place is the 
south of France. W % c got evidence, from our own counts, of 
the increase of thefgannet; and from our Icelandic colleagues 
of the fact that not only it but nine or ten other birds of the 
region have been rapidly extending their range northwards 
during recent decades. 

But the modern naturalist is not content unless he can 
relate his facts, howeveu valuable, and his isolated experi- 
ences, however exciting, to general principles; and the very 
vividness and novelty of the impressions made by an un- 
familiar country will set his scientific imagination to work. 
Here is the result of my own case — some of the ways in 
which Iceland's natural history illustrates or illuminates 
'general evolutionary biology. 

The most obvious point is the paucity of bird species in 
general, and of song-birds and other passerines in particular. 
Thus the .number of regular breeding species in Iceland is 

' 155 


only a little over a third of that in Britain ; but the number of 
breeding passerines is less than one-eighth of the British. 
In part this is due to the unfriendly climate and the barren- 
ness of much of the island. Although Iceland barely touches 
the Arctic Circle, real trees cannot grow except in two small 
sheltered localities, and both vegetation and insect life have 
much less luxuriance and variety than with us in Britafti,' 
while the winter is such that very few species of bird coy.ld 
possibly live through it. * 

In Spitsbergen, farther poleward, we find a marked 
further drop, both in the total and the passerine percentage. 
The best way to bring this home is by means of a table : 






Per cent, 
of total 

49 0 57— «j8 n 4o' (main- 
land) ; 49" 51' — 6o° 
$i # (with islands). 
63 0 20'— 66 w 32' 
76 0 26'— 8o° 50' 

There is also the fact that Iceland is an island, and a fairly 
remote one, lying over five hundred mile^from the Hebrides 
(a little more from Cape Wrath, the nearest point of tVic 
British mainland), and close on three hundred miles from 
Faeroe. Admittedly the distance north-westward to the 
Greerrfiand coast is under two hundred miles; but Greenland, 
especially in these latitudes, is so forbidding that very few 
species can have used it as a steppiwg-stone to Iceland. 

Now remote islands invariably show a .fauna and flora 
which is impoverished compared to that of the nearest main- 
land. With birds this is mainly due to the difficulties presented 
by a long sea passage, especially to small terrestrial species 
or those with feeble flight. In addition, an island is likely 
to have fewer kinds of habitats than a mainland area, and 
this may cut down the number of species which can find a 
permanent niche in its biological economy, even if they 
manage to reach it. 



It is difficult to say just what birds are lacking merely 
because they have failed to overcome the sea barrier. Some 
apparent candidates turn out, on reflection, to be ruled out 
for other reasons. Thus the fyct that among the thrushes the 
redwing breeds in Iceland and the fieldfare does not is not 
so surprising when we remember how the fieldfare seems 
hiuch more definitely wedded to tall trees to nest in, and (we 
may presume at least partly for that reason) does not exist 
so far north in Scandinavia as the redwing. 

Then, with such a favourite as the meadow pipit to 
parasitize, it is at first sight puzzling that there are no 
cuckoos. The reason is the low densityof pipit population. 
A cuckoo has to keep about a dozen fosterers' nests under 
observation if it is to succeed in its parasitism, and this 
would be impossible in Iceland. 

The absence of the rock-dove seems also surprising — until 
one remembers that the species seems to be dependent on 
weed-seeds and other by-products of human cultivation. 

But I do find it puzzling that the ring oyzel, which likes 
rocky slopes and in Norway breeds as far north as the 
North Cape, has not established itself; and still more so that 
the dipper is absent, when its smaller relative, the wren, has 
been breeding in Iceland so long that it has evolved into a 
distinctive subspecies. Of course, the streams by which the 
dipper lives would t be frozen over in winter, but part of the 
dipper population of northern continental Europe migrates 
southward in winter, and the same might readily have 
occurred in Iceland, while the rest might have done what all 
the Iceland wrens do, namely take to the seashore. AnU I am 
pretty sure that if the house sparrow ever reached Reykjavik, 
the capital of Iceland, it would flourish and multiply. The 
greatest puzzle ss that posed by the Lapland bunting, which 
breeds in Greenland and north of the Arctic Circle in Norway, 
but not in Iceland, although it seems to traverse the island 
regularly on passage 1 

That for strong fliers the climate is the only obstacle is 
shown by the fact that since the beginning of this century 
the list of breeding species has been increased by nearly 
10 per cent., undoubtedly owing to the amelioration of the 
climate — ^ fact to which I shall return. Conversely, swallows 



come to Iceland every summer (we saw some in the West- 
mann Islands), as do willow warblers, but neither species 
has yet been found breeding. 

It seems that many species ,arc all the time sending out 
scouts, so to speak, ipto areas where breeding is impossible 
but on the chance that one day they can establish themselves 
permanently. This seems a wasteful method, but natural 

Distribution of land animals m the main zoo-geographical regions of the world 

selection always involves wastage. The most striking ex- 
ample is the Painted Lady butterfly {Vanessa cardui\ which 
cannot reproduce itself regularly through the winter north 
of southern France, but in most years sends out vast numbers 
to Britain and other countries. The one we ourselves saw, 
by Lake Myvatn, was nearly fifteen hundred miles outside 
its permanent range. 

Another interesting feature of broad geographical dis- 
tribution is this — that Iceland is at the same time the 
westernmost outpost of a number of Old World bird species 
and the easternmost of some (but fewer) New World ones. 

158 ■ 


Lake Myvatn is the area of maximum overlap between the 
bird faunas of what zoologists call the Palearctic and Nearctic 
regions, northern Eurasia and North America respectively. 

Thus Iceland is the western limit of breeding range for 
such Old World species as whooper swan, greylag goose, 
snipe, golden plover, whimbrel, redwing, white wagtail (and 
intleed the entire wagtail genus); but it is the eastern limit 
foe those otherwise New World species, great northern 

Breeding distribution of the Loon or Great Northern Diver 

diver, Barrow's goldeneye, and harlequin duck. The ducks, 
by the way, well illustrate the complexities of geographical 
distribution — Iceland shows us not only several Old World 
species at their western limit, like wigeon, teal, common 
scoter, and tufted duck, and several New World ones at their 
eastern limit, but also a number of circumpolar or Holarctic 
species suGh as mallard, pintail, gadwall, and shoveller. 

All the New World species which breed in Iceland are 
hardy enough to inhabit parts of Greenland also. If the 
Labrador Current did not cool the east coast of Greenland 
and northern Canada so much below the temperature they 



ought to enjoy by virtue of their latitude, and the Gulf 
Stream did not warm Iceland and Spitsbergen and the north- 
west coasts of Europe so much above it, the contribution 
from the New World would presumably at least equal that 
of the Old. 

There is at least one plant in Iceland of New World origin. 
The sea-rockets, Caki/e y are shore-dwelling crucifers with 
lilac flowers. Two Icelandic botanists, Dr and Mrs Love, 
have recently shown that the sea-rocket of Iceland does' not, 
as has been generally assumed, belong to the species found 
in Scandinavia and Britain, Cakile maritima^ but reveals 
itself, both by its slightly different form and its doubled 
chromosome-number — thirty-six instead of eighteen — as 
the North American species, C. edentula. This holds also for 
the sea-rocket of the Azores : the Loves' conclusion is that 
the Gulf Stream has been responsible for the appearance of 
the American sea-rocket in these otherwise Old World 
islands, by transporting the seeds in its slow, warm drift. 

At various times in the geological past there was a land 
connection between the Old and the New Worlds across 
what is now the Bering Strait, and probably also, though not 
so often or so long, across the North Atlantic, along the line 
still indicated by the submarine ridges between Greenland, 
Iceland, Faeroe, and Shetland. The climate in the regions 
connected by these land bridges was then less rigorous, and 
there was more uniformity of animals and plants in the 
Holarctic region than now. But isolation and time saw to it 
that the inevitable differences were accentuated, and mean- 
while die New World fauna received large additions from 
the Central and South American region, which were very 
different from the immigrants that, the northern Old World 
received from Africa and south-western Asja. Thus eventu- 
ally two quite distinct faunas and floras, the Palearctic and 
the Nearctic, were differentiated — distinct, but with a 
number of elements obviously of common origin, and with 
a considerable number of species still shared by both and 
therefore classed as Holarctic. 

The greater isolation of the two regions to-day may 
possibly be due not only to the breaking of the land bridges 
between North America and the Old World, but to an 



actual increase of the distance across the Atlantic, caused by 
the slow drifting away of America from Europe. This was 
postulated by Wegener in his theory of Continental Drift. 
Iceland is well situated to test the theory. The position of 
certain points should be determined with great accuracy, so 
that after a lapse of years even a few yards' shift could be 
defected. German scientists had begun on this project before 

Breeding distribution of the Little Auk (arctic) and 
the Gannet (north temperate) 

World War II, and had set up a number of triangulation 
points in Iceland. However, the Icelanders were so suspicious 
that these might be camouflage for some military project 
that they destroyed them all — another of the innumerable 
minor casualties of modern war. 

But there are other faunas represented in Iceland. An 
important one is the North Atlantic fauna, mainly of course 
'of marine creatures, but emerging into the air in the form of 
a number of sea-birds which exist on both east and west 
coasts of the North Atlantic, and on suitable islands in 
between. Gannets, guillemots, razorbills, and puffins are 
F 161 


examples. This North Atlantic bird fauna seems to have 
differentiated comparatively recently — perhaps as a result of 
the drifting apart of northern America and northern Europe 
— and consists of immigrant types from other regions — 
from the Arctic, from the Pacific round Cape Horn, and 
from the Indian Ocean. 

Breeding distribution of the Great Skua 

Finally — believe it or not! — the Antarctic fauna is repre- 
sented in Iceland. The bonxie or great skua is merely a sub- 
species of a dominant species widespread in the Antarctic 
and sub-Antarctic regions. Many high-latitude birds migrate 
to the other hemisphere after breeding; thus perpetually 
avoiding winter. Our bonxies must be descended from some 
southern hemisphere migrants which stayed to breed in their 
off-season area— one cannot say "in their winter quarters". 

Thus we have in this one island representatives of five 
faunas — North Hemisphere Old World, North Hemisphere 
New World, North Atlantic, circumpolar South Hemisphere, 
and circumpolar North Hemisphere. This last includes 
two subdivisions — the true arctic fauna, with such Iceland 
birds as little auk and glaucous gull, and the sub-arctic 
and north-temperate forms shared by New and Old Worlds, 
such as wheatear, raven, mallard, and Slavonian grebe. 

One of the interesting things that came to our attention 
was the frequent distinctiveness of the local Iceland race or 
subspecies of various species of birds. The Iceland wren is 

162 , 


both larger and darker than ours in Britain, and the Iceland 
redpoll is also larger than our British subspecies, the so- 
called lesser redpoll, as well as having a recognizably differ- 
ent call-note. The redpoll, by the way, is an example of an 
Iceland bird which is smalf in size but yet is found in 
Greenland and North America, as well as in the Old World, 
so that it, like the wheatear, is Holarctic. But, unlike the 
widely spreading ducks, both these small birds have broken 
up into numerous well-marked subspecies. The wren is 
curious in this respect. Although it has produced separate 
and distinctive subspecies in Iceland, Faeroe, St Kilda, and 
Shetland, it is uniform over the whole of .western and central 
continental Europe. The separation of Britain from the 
Continent has not resulted in the evolution of a British sub- 
species, though this has happened with many other birds, 
of which our pied wagtail, so easily distinguishable from the 
continental white wagtail, is an example. Why this is so, is a 
real puzzle. 

The fact that the Iceland redpoll and wren are larger 
in size than ours is an example of an interesting general rule 
— that warm-blooded animals tend to be slightly larger the 
•nearer they live to the pole; further, in mammals, the relative 
size of ears, tail, and limbs tend to diminish — a phenomenon 
strikingly illustrated by the tiny ears of the arctic fox as 
compared with the huge flaps of the fennec fox from the 
searching deserts. *rhese changes are undoubtedly adapta- 
tions, working to reduce heat-loss in cold climates and to 
promote it in over-hot ones. 

Thus some of the special characters of Iceland bifds are 
adaptations to climate, while others, like the colour of the 
Iceland wren, seem to be non-adaptive consequences or 
accidental results of isolation. But there is a third class of 
difference, and perhaps the most interesting — difference in 
behaviour and song. Some of these differences, like the 
harsher song of the Iceland wren, are again aspects of the 
distinctiveness of the local subspecies. Others seem to be 
due to the birds being on the margin of their range, in sur- 
roundings quite different from the normal. Thus, as already 
mentioned, the Iceland wren out of the breeding season has 
to become almost exclusively a shore-bird. 


Frequently, however, the reason is more subtle — the 
absence of competition from close relatives which have not 
reached this part of the species' range. Thus, in Britain, 
snipe are inhabitants of open country, so that it was surpris- 
ing to find them quite comm6n in the one of Iceland's two 
woods that we visited. James Fisher hit on what I am sure is 
the solution — namely that there are no woodcock in Iceland. 
With us, woodcock occupy the habitat provided by boggy 
woods. But where woodcock are absent, the snipe' avail 
themselves of these as well as of their normal open habitats. 

The absence of close relatives may have another effect. 
When two closely .allied species come into contact in the 
same area, it is generally a biological advantage for them to 
proclaim their distinctiveness by some characteristic differ- 
ence of plumage or voice. This will help to prevent actual 
or attempted cross-breeding, trespassing, and other wastes of 
time and energy. In Britain, the closely related meadow and 
tree pipits are not only restricted to different habitats, but 
sing quite distinctive songs. With us, the meadow pipit is 
exclusively a bird of moors and heaths and other open 
country, and its song is a rather feeble descending scale 
gradually accelerated into a little trill, given as the bird 
parachutes down after having flown up from the ground. 
The tree pipit, on the other hand, demands scattered trees, 
and has a much more striking song; this also is given in the 
air while floating down, but the flight stirts from (and often 
ends on) a high tree perch. 

Here the need for distinctiveness cannot well be met by 
plumage differences, since both species are adapted to con- 
cealment by cryptic colouration; but the songs, given high 
in the air, are obvious trade-marks for th'e species. In the 
Iceland birchwood where we found snipe, there were also 
meadow pipits. We would never have dreamt of finding 
meadow pipits in such a place in England, and their presence 
was clearly due to the absence of their close relative and 
competitor, the tree pipit. What is more, the song of one of 
them had a distinct tree pipit flavour, and it was begun from 
a tree perch. 

Finnur Gudmunsson told us that in western Iceland he 
had once spent a couple of hours stalking the singer of a song 



which was wholly unknown to him: he eventually shot it for 
identification purposes— only to discover that it was an 
ordinary meadow pipit! This, too, was in a birch area, 
though the birches here were only scrub. Thus the relaxation 
of the need for distinctiveness seems to have permitted the 
song to change. The meadow pipits of open country in 
Iceland have so far not been heard to give any intermediate 
or % markedly abnormal song (though one we heard in the 
Wesfmann Islands was exceptional for its brilliance). Pos- 
sibly the woodland and scrubland birds are evolving into a 
distinct ecological race. 

There remains to mention one amusing incident. In this 
same wood we found a redwing's nest quite high in a birch 
tree. Now, in Iceland the redwing, that attractive little 
thrush, is normally a confirmed ground-nester, though in 
Norway it frequently builds in trees, and Dr Gudmunsson 
was quite impressed by this unusual event. Then on Myvatn 
we saw another tree nest, some eight feet up in a willow ; and 
Dr Gudmunsson grew really excited — until Sigfinson, the 
farmer-naturalist, reminded him that this had been the latest 
season in living memory, and that the ground had been deep 
"in snow when the breeding urge took the redwings. Seeing 
that they thus so readily revert to ancestral habit under the 
stress of necessity, it is rather curious that they do not 
normally do so as^a matter of convenience wherever trees 
or*bushes abound. 

Finally, I come to what to me is the most interesting point 
of all — the bearing of field natural history in Iceland upon 
the fascinating and basic question of a world-wide change in 

Professor Ahlmann, the well-known Swedish geographer, 
has summarize^ the evidence on this subject in the Geo- 
graphical Journal. He concludes that in the northern hemi- 
sphere a widespread amelioration of climate, most extensive 
in higher latitude, is in progress. It began about a hundred 
years ago,. but has been especially marked in the last two 
decades. The most likely explanation is that it is world-wide 
and due to increased heat from the sun, which in its turn 
operates by altering the world's great system of atmospheric 


The evidence is of every sort — increased temperatures, 
spectacular regression of glaciers, changes in the position of 
main low-pressure and high-pressure areas, alterations in 
rainfall and snowfall, desiccation in lower latitudes (includ- 
ing the drying up of East African and South-East Russian 
lakes), enormous shrinkage of the polar pack ice, enlarged 
growth-rings of trees, and changes in the distribution cff 
many animals and plants. 1 * 

On this last point Iceland provides a great deal of evi- 
dence, since it lies on the sensitive limit between sub-arctic 
and arctic conditions. We know from historical records that 
for over four hundred years the early colonists successfully 
grew barley, but that soon after a.d. 1300 this became 
impossible. To-day, to quote Ahlmann, "the present shrink- 
age of the glaciers is exposing districts which were culti- 
vated by the early medieval farmers but were subsequently 
overridden by ice". 

The ensuing cold spell of about six hundred years has 
been called the Little Ice Age; it was the coldest period since 
the retreat of the ice after the last major glacial period, while 
the warmest period since the end of the Ice Age seems to 
have been the few centuries just before our present era/ 
About 1880 the Iceland glaciers reached their maximum 
extension for some ten thousand years. 

As showing how sensitive animals jnay be as climatic 
indicators, Finnur Gudfaiunsson told me that in the wahn 
spell just before the Christian Era, the dog-whelk {Purpura) 
was found all along the north and east coasts of Iceland, 
while to-day it stops d£ad at the north-west and south-east 
corners. (The slightly hardier whelk, Bucctnutn> still occurs 
all round the island.) 

To come down to the present, the last few decades have 
seen drastic changes in the fish which are Iceland's prime 
economic support. Herring, haddock, halibut, and especially 
cod have extended their range northward in Greenland (the 
cod at the rate of about twenty-four miles a year for over 
thirty years); and cod and herring are moving north from 

1 Thi9 was written in 1950. Dr. Dunbar, of the Arctic Institute in 
Canada, telh me that in the last few years there is some indication that the 
trend has passed its peak and that a reversal of the process setting in. 




Iceland, so that anxiety is beginning to be felt about the 
future of the fisheries. 

As a result of the amelioration of climate, there have been 
extraordinary changes in the # bird population of the island. 
No less than six species — nearly 10 per cent, of the previous 
list of breeders — have only started to breed in Iceland during 
the present century. There is the tufted duck, which arrived 
in* 1 908, and has spread so fast that now it is the second 
comrtionest species on Myvatn; three gulls — the black- 
headed, herring, and lesser blackback; the coot and the 
starling, both only after 1 940, the latter still confined to cliffs 
near its presumed landfall in the south-east. Further, the 
oystercatcher, previously confined to the south-west, has 
a spectacular spread northward. The blacktailed godwit and 
the gannet have also pushed up the northern limit of their 
range, the latter having established three new colonies on the 
north and east coasts. 

Meanwhile, the little auk, the only truly arctic species in 
Iceland, has entirely deserted one of its two breeding colonies 
in the north-east, while the other has dwindled to almost 
nothing; apparently Iceland seas are no longer cold enough 
for it, or more probably, for the marine Crustacea on which 
it mainly feeds its young. Some plants, too, are moving 
north, notably the bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus\ which has 
colonized areas previously reserved to dwarf willows; and 
tHcre have been similar shifts in some of Iceland's insects. 

All these changes have become much more pronounced 
within the last ten to fifteen years. 

We in Britain have had numerous'examples of bird species 
spreading northward in the present century, including some 
birds which have been doing the same thing in Iceland, like 
the tufted duck^and others like the black redstart, which are 
quite recent invaders of our islands. 

All such observations take on new interest when it is 
realized that they can contribute to our understanding of a 
world-wide and secular change of immense significance for 
our future; and one which is unique, since, in Ahlmann's 
words, "It is the first fluctuation in the endless series of past 
and future climatic variations in the history of the earth 
which we # can measure, investigate, and possibly explain." 


Population is the problem of our age. The increase* of 
population, and its relation to resources and to fulnessf of 
life, inevitably obtrudes itself on anyone who, like myself, 
happens to travel round the world in the middle of the 
twentieth century. The traveller is struck by shcfcr numbers 
as in China, high density as in Java, attempts to control 
increase as in India, the effects of immigration as in Ceylon 
or Fiji, large vacant spaces in Australia, and erosion, de- 
forestation and destruction of wild life almost everywhere. 
But the experiences of travel merely highlight and illustrate 
in greater detail something that is already obtruding itself on 
the world's consciousness — the fact that the increase of 
human numbers # has initiated a new and critical phase in the 
history of our species. 

The most striking symbol of this new phase was the 
United Nations' Conference on World Population, held in* 
Rome in 1954 — a milestone in history, as being the first 
occasion when the subject of human population was sur- 
veyed as a whole, and under the aegis pf an official inter- 
national organization. ' § 

In point of fact, this was the second step into the new 
phase. The first step had been taken in 1949, with the hold- 
ing of f the U.N. Confefence on World Resources in Lake 
Success — the first attempt to survey the .world's material 
resources as a whole. When this. Conference was being 
prepared, I was Director-General of Un^esco, which, in 
common with other specialized Agencies of the U.N., such 
as F.A.O. and W.H.O., was asked to collaborate in the 
project. In formally accepting this invitation, I took it on 
myself to suggest informally that a survey of resources 
would lose half its value if it were not supplemented by 
a similar survey of the population which consumed and 
used the resources. I was told that there were political and 
religious difficulties; then, as the months passecj, that the 





demographic experts insisted on the mid-century censuses 
first being held; and then that the figures would have to be 
thoroughly analysed before such a conference could profit- 
ably be held. Eventually the political and religious diffi- 
culties were smoothed over, by Arranging that the Conference 
should be purely "scientific" and should not be encouraged 
or indeed permitted to pass any practical resolutions; the 
mid-century censuses were, with a few exceptions, tak§n; 
the figures were, sometimes with a good deal of delay, 
assembled and analysed; the cumbersome preparations for 
an international U.N. conference were set in njotion; and 
the Conference was # duly held — after the lapse of five years, 
during which time the population to be surveyed had 
increased by about 30 millions ! 

To the Conference and its implications I shall return. 
First I shall set forth some of the facts — often surprising 
and sometimes alarming — which justify our calling the 
present a new and decisive phase in human history. The 
first fact is the enormous absolute size of the present popula- 
tion of the world- 1 — over 2% billion. 1 The second is the amount 
of its present net increase — some 34 million a year, nearly 
4000 an hour, over 60 a minute, over one every second:* 
this is equivalent to adding a good-sized town of over 90,000 
people every day of the year. And the third fact is that the 
total has been increasing steadily and relentlessly, with only 
occasional and minor setbacks, since bfefore the dawn of 
history. The 2-billion mark was not passed until the 1920s, 
the 1 -billion mark in the mid-eighteenth century, the half- 
billion f piark somewhere around the time of the Great Fire of 
London (in 1650 it was about 470 million). Before this, the 
estimates are much less accurate; but evfcn if we allow a 
considerable margin of inaccuracy/the quarter-billion mark 
cannot have been passed before the birth* of Christ, and 
probably not before the third century a.d. The total cannot 
possibly have reached 100 million before the collapse of the 
Old Kingdom of Egypt, and probably not till much later, 
about the beginning of the Iron Age: and in the pre- 
agricultural stage of human development, before 6000 B.C., 
it must certainly have been below 30 million and probably 
1 I use billion in the American sense of a thousand million- — io 9 . 

170 m 



1650 A.D 


400A D| 



• ••••• 

• ••••• 

• • • 

• • • 



Each dot represents 
10 rhillion people 


: l — rrr 

1 100 
-j Miljion 


Estimated increase of world population since the dawn of civilization 



below 20. This was only some 8000 years ago, yet before 
that time, man (though represented by different species from 
our own for most of the period) had existed for at least half 
a million years. 




</> 200 



^ 100 




6000 4000 2000 B C AD 2000 

Estimated growth of world population since 6000 b.c. 

Note. — The estimated growth is traced in this chart by the heavy curvL 
The curves above and below it represent upper and lower limits of the 
estimat&l. The population curve is on a semi-logarithmic scale, so that the 
slope of the curve is directly proportional to the rate of increase. 

The fourth and most formidable fact \s this — that not 
only have the absolute numbers steadily grown, but the rate 
of increase itself has continued to increase. Human numbers 
are self-multiplying, so that population, as Malthus pointed 
out in 1798, tends to grow not arithmetically but geometric- 
ally: it tends to increase by compound interest. The present 
compound interest rate of world population-increase is nearly 
1 J per cent, per annum. But it never reached i per cent, per 
annum until well into the present century. It was less than 

172 € 



o«5 per cent, in 1650, and cannot have exceeded / 0 of 
1 per. cent, through all the ages before the discovery of 
agriculture. What is more, this increase in rate of increase 
shows no sign of falling off, and it is quite safe to prophesy 

2000- • 




— +1 







Rate of increase of world population since 1650 (semi-logarithmic scale) 

that it will continue to go up for at least several decacfes, and 
probably into the twenty-first century. 

With this, the prospect becomes really alarming. Let us 
first remember that, even if the rate of increase stayed the 
same, the absolute net increase would still go up each year, 
forobvious arithmetical reasons. 1 Population increase, in fact, 

1 If the present world population be taken at 2600 million, and its rate of 
increase at ij per cent., its absolute net increase in the course of the next 12 
months will be 34$ millions. If the resultant 2634$ million people continue 
to increase at the same rate, the net increase for the next twelve months will 
be just over 35$ millions. Since the rate too is increasing, the actual net 
increase wilLof course be still larger. 

' 173 



proceeds— or at least has in the past proceeded and is now 
still proceeding — not at a constant velocity, but by accelera- 
tion, and the result has been to convert an early state of 
virtual stability into one of slo^but appreciable growth, then 
into a rapid expansion, and finally into an explosive process. 

The acceleration has not been constant. It has proceeded 
in a series of upward steps, each step resulting from somfe 
new discovery or invention. The essential discoveries ire 
those which provide subsistence for more people. The'chief 
stages in this process are broadly as follows. First, the food- 
gathering stage, as typified by the Australian* aborigines 
before contact with* white civilization. During this stage of 
human evolution, the maximum world population could not 
have exceeded a few millions. The invention of organized 
hunting, as practised by Upper Paleolithic man or by the 
Plains Indians in their pristine state, would have allowed 
perhaps a doubling or trebling of maximum human num- 
bers, though never any high density of population : the total 
population of l^orth America east of the Rockies in pre- 
Colonial times is estimated at only about one million. The 
discovery of agriculture had a much bigger effect, and the 
two or three millennia of the neolithic revolution were 
marked by a great expansion in human numbers and by 
great movements of peoples. 

The next major step was the step tQ civilization, with 
writing and large-scale 'organization of production, tracfe, 
and administration, but still relying for its energy on man- 
power and beast-power, with a little tapping of wind and 
water. 'This permitted population to rise again, in spite of 
constant wars, recurrent famines, and occasipnal world pesti- 
lences such as the Black Death, to .over 500 millions. 

Then came the second really radical step-r-the harnessing 
of non-human power to human production, initiating the 
industrial, scientific, and technological revolution of the 
seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. This many-fold multi- 
plication of power led to a spectacular multiplication of 
human beings. World population doubled itself twice over 
in the period between 1 650 and 1 920, and will have doubled 
itself a third time by the early 1980s. Further, while the 
first doubling took nearly two centuries, the secjond took 

174 ■ 


well under one century, and the third will have required only 
about. 60 years. Unless something wholly unforeseen hap- 
pens, the world's present population will be doubled again 
within half a century. 

The excessively rapid acceleration during the present 
century is due to yet another decisive set of discoveries — the 
discoveries of physiology, scientific medicine, and hygiene, 
whose result we may call death-control. Where these dis- 
coveries have been fully applied, the expectation of life at 
birth has more than doubled. This was only about 30 years 
in Imperii Rome, and did not increase much even in 
Western Europe until well on in the nineteenth century, but 

Average length of life 


viSm i2 




Average length of life in North America and Britain, and in Asia 

is now about 70 for the people of Britain. The process is just 
setting in in Asian countries. Thus in India the expectation 
of life in the decade 191 1-2 1 was only 20: in three decades 
it had increased to 32. Death-rafes dropped from their 
traditional heights of 35 to 40 per 1000 to less than 10 per 
1000 in the more advanced countries, with 7*7 in Holland 
as the present lowest figure; and infant mortality, during the 
first year of life, which may reach 30, 40, and even 50 per 
cent, in primitive communities, has shown the most spec- 
tacular fall, to 2-8 per cent, in the U.S.A., with a present 
minimum of 1*9 per cent, in Sweden. Tn Britain it was still 
over 15 per cent, in 1900, but is now only 2*75 per cent. 

This differs from all the other previous major steps: it 
permits people to escape death longer, ratherthan to support 
life more efficiently. 

• 175 



In the Western world the change was gradual, and its 
effects on population-growth were buffered by two, inter- 
locking factors. The rising standard of life encouraged family 
limitation, partly because of tfye parents' desire for the corn- 
Rate a thousand population 

401 *~ 


Birth, death and natural increase rates in the United States of America 


Note. — The figure shows a combination of a low and steady death-rate 
with a t>irth-rate which declined by about 1935 to the low level normally 
associated with western countries towards the end of their population cycle. 
Then came the sharp increase which brought births up to the high rate of 
twenty-four a thousand by 1947, since when it has remained roughly constant. 
So high a birth-rate and therefore so high a natural inefcase is a new pheno- 
menon in western countries which had apparently reached the end of their 
population cycle. 

forts and amenities of life (competition between children and 
cars or TV sets), partly because of their desire that their 
children should have the best possible chance in life, better 
health and enjoyment as well as better education (competi- 
tion between quantity of children and the quality of their 

176 • 



lives), and partly because in an urban or high-wage civiliza- 
tion, children are no longer an economic asset. 

Matters were very different in the under-developed 
countries. There death-control was introduced with ex- 
plosive speed. Ancient diseases were brought under control 
or even totally abolished in the space of a few decades or 
even a few years. Let me give one example. In England" 
malaria took three centuries to disappear: in Ceylon it was 
virtually wiped out fifty times as fast, in little more thart six 
years, thanks to D.D.T. and a well-organized anti-malaria 
campaign. As a result of this and other health measures, the 
originally high death-rate has fallen to the Western level — 
from 22 to 12 per iooo — in seven years, a fall which took 
exactly ten times as long in England. But the birth-rate has 
not even begun to drop, and so the population is growing at 
the rate of 2*7 per cent, per annum (nearly twice the highest 
rate ever experienced in Britain), which if continued will 
mean doubling in thirty years — about a ninefold increase in 
a century! 

The Reverend Thomas Malthus, a century and a half ago, 
alarmed the world by pointing out that population-increase 
was pressing more and more insistently on food-supply, and 
if unchecked would result in widespread misery and even 
starvation. In recent times, even as late as the 1930s, it had 
become customary to pooh-pooh Malthu^an fears. For one 
thing, the opening up of new land to agriculture, couplecl 
with the introduction of better agricultural methods, had 
allowed food-production to keep up with population-increase, 
and in 9 some areas even to outdistance it. For another, 
attempts were being made to impugn the, whole basis of 
Malthus' argument. It was pointed out that he was incorrect 
in saying that food-production tended to increase in an 
arithmetical progression, as against the geometrical pro- 
gression of population-increase : food-production during the 
nineteenth and early twentieth century did actually increase 
in a more than arithmetical progression. 

Now, however, we realize that the nineteenth-century 
spurt in food-production was a temporary historical incident: 
it cannot be expected to continue at the same rate, and indeed 
must slow down as it approaches an inevitable lijnit; and 




secondly that, though Malthus' particular formulation was 
incorrect, there is a fundamental difference between the 
increase of population, which is based on a geometrical or 
compound-interest growth-mecfianism, and of production, 
which is not. 

In primitive societies, population-growth is kept low by 
the checks of famine, disease, and war, which Malthus 
floted, and by some form of "birth-control", in the extended 
sense of deliberate control of population-size, which he did 
not. It was reserved for Carr-Saunders in his pioneering 
work, The Population Problem (1922), to demonstrate that 
almost all savage and barbaric and some civilized societies 
practise some form of population-control— either by infanti- 
cide or abortion, or by anti-conceptional drugs or practices, 
or by long periods of sexual abstinence. Only exceptionally, 
in a few advanced cultures, has there been no socially recog- 
nized system of population-control. 

However, during the nineteenth century, artificial methods 
of family limitation were widely practised in the technologic- 
ally most advanced culture, that of Western civilization, 
where they were invented, and from it are beginning to 
spread to other cultures. With this, the population problem 
has entered on a new phase. It is no longer primarily a race 
between population and food-production, but between death- 
control and birth- # control. 

m Some cultures and groups go so far as to offer vehement 
opposition to birth-control on ideological grounds. By a 
strange irony of history, the Catholics and the Communists 
find themselves united on this poifit. The Roman Catholic 
Church lays down that birth-control is contrary to the will 
of God, while Russian Communism during the Stalinist era 
went further apd asserted that over-population is non-exist- 
ent, a figment invented by the economist "lackeys" of capital- 
ism to justify "imperialist" and "colonialist" exploitation I 
On this last point, it is worth noting that the colonial 
powers have, with few exceptions, avoided giving official 
encouragement to birth-control measures even when, as in 
Malta, they are already urgently needed, and still less in the 
more numerous cases where failure to appfy them now will 
result in, disastrous over-population in one or two genera- 



I 80 


tions. This attitude has apparently been due to a fear that 
local opinion might regard any policy of population-control 
as a weapon directed against an "inferior' ' race 1 . 

The growth of world population is not uniform, for 
different countries are in different stages of the population 
cycle. The term population cycle is used by demographers to 
•express the fact that populations usually pass through a 
definite series of stages in their growth. They begin with a 
"high fluctuating" stage of slow increase, when both birth- 
rate and death-rate are high. Then they pass into the "early 
expanding" phase of rapid increase, when the death-rate 
falls sharply but the birth-rate stays uiorc or less steadily 
high.This is succeeded bythc "late expanding "stage, during 
which death-rates continue to fall towards a limiting value 
and birth-rates show a rapid decline: the population con- 
tinues to increase, but not so rapidly as in the preceding 
stage. Finally, both birth- and death-rates reach a low figure 
and show little further sharp variation. This introduces the 
"low fluctuating" phase, when increase is still taking place, 
but is very slow. Once this stage has been reached, we may 
expect that the population will eventually reach a phase of 
' stabilization unless new sources of food-production are dis- 
covered, or new outlets are acquired through conquest or 
colonization, or new ideas and values begin to operate. 

The countries # of north-western Europe are in the low 
fluctuating phase of near-stabilization, while the under- 
developed countries have now almost all entered on the 
early expanding stage, a number of them so explosively as 
to be increasing at rates of 2 or even 3 per cent. per»annum, 
whereas the maximum reached by Europe in its slower cycle 
was less than \\ per .cent. When we remember that an 
annual increase of 2 per cent, doubles a population in about 
thirty-five years, and one of 1 \ per cent, in under forty-seven 
years, and then recall that rates of this order are at work in 
about half the world's i\ billion inhabitants, we cannot but 
feel alarmed. If nothing is done to control this flood of 

1 Since this passage was written, Family Planning Schemes have, I am 
glad to say, been implemented in Jamaica and in Puerto 1 Rico, and the official 
attitude towards population-control has become more favourable. 

. 181 


people, mankind will drown in its own increase, or, it you 
prefer a very mixed metaphor, the world's economy will 
burst at the seams, and mankind will become a planetary 

There are still some optimist? who proclaim that "science 
will find a way out"; or that the situation can be taken care 
of by taking new land into cultivation, combined with emi-« 
gration; or by improved agricultural techniques; or by 
tapping the food resources of the ocean; or by industriaJiza- 
tion, which it is hoped will have the same effect as in the 
advanced countries, of bringing down the birth-rate in 
correlation with a rising standard of living— or of course by 
a combination of some or all of these methods. 

These arguments seem plausible — until we begin to look 
at matters quantitatively. Then, it becomes painfully clear to 
all but incurable or pathological optimists that they just 
won't and can't achieve the results claimed for them — of 
stimulating the rate of food-production so that it overtakes 
or even keeps up with human reproduction. To achieve that 
result, skill, capitdl, and time are needed — skilled experts to 
direct projects, capital to finance them, and above all time — 
time to clear tropical forests, construct huge dams and irriga- 
tion projects, drain swamps, start large-scale industrialization, 
give training in scientific methods, modernize systems of 
land tenure, and, most difficult of all, to change traditional 
habits and attitudes among the bulk of the people. Quitfc 
simply there is not enough skill and capital and time avail- 
able. Their effects will always lag behind the increase of 
population. Population is always catching up and outstrip- 
ping production. Since, for instance, the great Lloyd Barrage 
on the Indus was built, it has brought over 4000 square 
miles of the earth's surface into cultivation : but within one 
generation this huge area of new land was fully settled, 
without in the slightest reducing the density of population 
in the rest of the Indian sub-continent. 

The fact is that an annual increase of 34 million mouths 
to be fed needs more new food than can possibly go on being 
added to production year after year. Population-increase 
to-day has reached such enormous dimensions and acquired 
such speed that population cannot help winning in a straight 

182 ' 


race Against production. The position is made worse by the 
fact that the race is not a straight one. Production is severely 
handicapped, because it starts far behind scratch : according 
to the latest estimates of the World Health Organization, 
nearly two-thirds of the world's people are under-nourished. 
Production has to make good this huge deficiency as well as 
keeping up with the mere quantitative increase in human 

Is, there then no remedy? Of course there is. The remedy 
is to stop thinking in terms of a race, and to begin thinking 



Distribution of world population according to average daily supply of calories 


in terms of a balance. We need a population policy, and any 
practical policy involves a pattern of rational compromise. 

We must give up the false belief that an increase in the 
number of hurAan beings is necessarily desirable; and the 
despairing belief that increase is inevitable; and the fatuous 
over-optimism that shuts its eyes to the grievous effects of 
over-population; and the airy assertion that "science" will 
surely find a way out. 

The production of people, like the production of food, is a 
fact of nature, using nature comprehensively as it should be 
used, to include human nature. Like other natural pheno- 





mena, both can be studied, understood, and to some extent 
controlled, though by different methods. Put in another way, 
if science can and should be applied to increase the rate of 
food-production, it can and should also be applied to reduce 
the rate of population-growth or people-production. And 
for that, as for all scientific advance, we need both basic 
fesearch and practical application. 

' In this particular case, basic research is needed not only 
on ntfw, simpler, and more efficient methods of birth-control, 
but also on the psychological attitudes of different nations 
and groups to population-control and family limitation, as 
well as of course on the precise details of«demographic trends 
in different sections of the world. And practical application 
will involve measures for overcoming psychological resist- 
ances and ensuring popular participation, and for the building 
of proper administrative machinery and information services, 
as well as for providing a quantitatively adequate supply of 
technically adequate contraceptives. But the essential step 
is to admit the pressing need for a clear-cut and scientific 
population policy: once this is agreed, the rest will surely 

This does not mean that we should envisage a definite 
optimum population-size for a given country or for the 
world as a whole. Indeed, to fix such a figure is probably 
impossible, and to,usc it as a definite target is certainly un- 
practical. In matters of population we must get away from 
static figures of absolute number and think dynamically in 
terms of rates and trends. For the time being our aim should 
be confined to correcting undcsiraMe trends. The danger- 
point of human increase lies in the next thirty or forty years. 
If nothing is done to brjng down its rate during that time, 
the succeeding period will be exposed to disastrous miseries 
and charged with the high explosive of billionfold frustra- 
tion. Thus our particular present aim should be to discover 
how to reduce over-rapid rates of population-growth. If we 
can do this, our descendants can begin thinking of a more 
or less stable level of population. 

So far, I have only considered this relation between people 
and food, and only in its simplest quantitative form. But 
over-population — or, not to beg any questions, high popula- 

• l8 5 


tion-density — affects a great many other spheres of human 
life, some of which have repercussions on food-production. 
Thus, to take this last point first, in England agricultural 
land is being steadily devoured and permanently lost by the 
growth of towns, of necessary communications — roads, 
railroads, and aerodromes — of new large-scale industry, and, 
temporarily at least, by open-cast mining and defence. In 
many countries, deforestation, even when carried out to 
provide new land for cultivation, often results in erosion, 
with an eventual reduction of food-production instead of 
the hoped-for increase. Wherever population outruns food — 
as it does now in the billion-and-a-half of the world's popula- 
tion who are undernourished — it reduces human energy and 
initiative and so impedes higher productivity. 

But man does not live by bread alone, nor should he live 
for bread alone. He needs power and shelter and clothing, 
and in addition to all material requirements he needs space 
and beauty, sport and recreation, interest and enjoyment. 

Excessive population can erode all these things. Up till 
now, rapid population-increase has led to hypertrophied 
cities, so big that they are beginning to defeat their own ends; 
they are producing discomfort, inefficiency and nervous' 
strain as well as cutting off millions of people from any real 
contact or sense of unity with nature. 

Population-increase also threatens the .world's open spaces 
and the beauty of unspoilt nature. In small countries with 
high population-density, like England, the pressure on 
mere space is becoming acute. But even in newer and less 
densely inhabited countries the process of erosion and 
destruction is going on, often at an alarming rate. Every- 
where, even in Africa, wild life — not merely big game, but 
wild life in general — is shrinking and often being exter- 
minated : the world's mountains are being invaded by hydro- 
electric projects, its forests cut down or commercialized, its 
wildernesses infiltrated by farmers and miners and tourists 
and other invaders. Even the cultural richness of the world 
is being impoverished. The pressure of population is being 
translated into economic and social pressures, which are 
forcing mass-pfoduced goods into every corner of the globe, 
pushing people into Western dress and Western habits, 


sapping ancient cultural ideals and destroying traditional 
art and craftsmanship. 

Indeed, once we start looking at the population problem 
as a whole and in all its implications, we find ourselves being 
pressed into a reconsideration of human values in general. 
First of all we must reject the idea that mere quantity of 
human beings is of value apart from the quality of their lives. 
Then, after realizing that all existence is a process of trans- 
formation or evolution, that the human species in its cultural 
evolution is continuing and extending the process of bio- 
logical evohition from which it arose> that the well-rounded 
and developed human personality is the highest product of 
the evolutionary process of which we have any knowledge, 
but that the human individual cannot achieve full develop- 
ment except in the environment provided by an adequate 
society, we find ourselves inevitably driven to the ideal 
of fulfilment — greater fulfilment for more fully developed 
human individuals. 

Accordingly, the values we must pursue^are those which 
permit or promote greater human fulfilment. Food and 
health, energy and leisure are its necessary bases: its value- 
9 goals are knowledge and interest, beauty and emotional 
expression, inner integration and outer participation, enjoy- 
ment and a sense of significance. In practice these values 
often come into competition and even conflict ; so to achieve 
greater fulfilment we need a pattern of compromise and 
mutual adjustment between values. 

The space and the resources of our planet are limited. 
Some we must set aside for the satisfaction of man's ntaterial 
needs — for food, raw materials, and energy. But we must 
set aside others for more ultimate satisfactions — the enjoy- 
ment of unspoilt nature and fine scenery, the interest of wild 
life, travel, satisfying recreation, beauty in place of ugliness 
in human building, and the preservation of the variety of 
human culture and of monuments of ancient grandeur. 

In practice this means limiting the use to which some 
. areas are put. You cannot use ploughed fields to land air- 
craft on, you cannot grow crops in builtover areas, you 
cannot permit exploitation or unrestricted "development" in 
National Parks or nature sanctuaries. In the long run, you 


cannot avoid paying the price for an unrestricted growth of 
human numbers: and that price is ruinous. 

It is often asserted that science can have no concern with 
values. On the contrary, in all fields of Social Science, and 
(in rather a different way) wherever the applications of 
Natural Science touch social affairs and affect human living, 
science must take account of values, or it will not be doing 
its job satisfactorily. The population problem makes this 
obvious. As soon as we recall that population is merely a 
collective term for aggregations of living human beings, 
we find ourselves thinking about relations between quantity 
and quality — quantity of the human beings in the popula- 
tion and quality of the lives they lead: in other words, values. 

Though I may seem to have painted the picture of world 
population in gloomy colours, there is hope. Just as the 
horrible destructiveness of atomic warfare is now prompt- 
ing a reconsideration of warfare in general, and seems likely 
to lead to the abandonment of all-out war as an instru- 
ment of national policy, so I would predict that the threat 
of over-population to human values like health, standard 
of living, and amenity will prompt a reconsideration of 
values in general and lead eventually to a new value-system 
for human living. But time is of the essence of the contract. 
If before the end of the century the rate of human increase 
is not lowered, instead of continuing to rise, so many values 
will have been damaged or destroyed that it will be difficiht 
to re-create them, let alone to build a new and better system. 
It has taken ten years for the atomic threat to affect world 
thought and action: how long will it take for the less 
spectacular but more insidious reproductive threat to do so? 

So far I have been dealing with the problem of world 
population in general. Now I shall take some individual 
cases, as illustrating particular aspects of it. 

Let me begin with Indonesia. The outstanding fact is 
the extraordinary difference between different parts of the 
Republic. Java is the most densely populated l?rge island 
in the world, with over 50 million people on its 50,000 
square miles. In spite of its being almost entirely an agri- 
cultural country, the denaity of its population is nearly twice 
that of the highly industrialized United Kingdom. Though 



its area is under a tenth of the whole Republic, it carries over 
two-thirds of the population. The contrast with the adjacent 
island of Sumatra is especially striking. Sumatra is well over 
three times the area of Java, but Has a population well under 
a fifth as big, giving a density of less than one-seventeenth. 
Indonesian Borneo is even larger in area, and has an even 
lower population-density. 

• In Java, the cultivable land is very fertile, but there is less 
than two-fifths of an acre per head. Though rice is the staple 
diet, so much land is devoted to exportable products that 
rice has imported to feed the people, even at the in- 
sufficient level of about 2000 calories* per head per day. 
Death-rates have dropped somewhat in recent decades, but 
birth-rates hardly at all, with the result that the population — 
universally recognized as already excessive — is increasing 
at a compound-interest rate of at least per cent., with 
some three-quarters of a million people added each year. 
The proximity of large under-populated areas like Sumatra 
and Borneo has fostered the idea that Java's over-population 
could be solved by transfers of people within the Republic. 
But this facile suggestion has proved to be quite impractical. 

• With considerable difficulty, the Indonesian authorities have 
settled a number of Javanese in Sumatra. But their total was 
only a fraction of Java's annual increase, and even so, many 
of the settlers could not stand the hardships of pioneering 
agriculture and have drifted away into a depressed urban life 
on the coasts of Sumatra, or found a way to return to Java. 
The fact is that to convert a region of dense equatorial forest 
to agricultural production is a formidable undertaking, 
demanding as much capital and technological skill as any 
large hydro-electric or irrigation project — and considerably 
more in the way of experts, administrators, and leaders. 
Indonesia simply does not have the necessary financial, 
material, and human resources. 

This is not to say that settlement should not be attempted. 
Of course it should be, and on the largest possible scale. But 

.the largest possible scale cannot possibly cope with more 
than a small part of Java's annual surplus of people. Im- 
proved agricultural practice is also necessary, and better 
marketing methods, and some degree of industrialization, 



not to mention political stability — but, in addition, birth- 
control. Unfortunately there is no sign yet that the Indo- 
nesian Government recognizes this last necessity. 

If the necessity for birth-control has not been officially 
recognized where over-popula'cion is starkly obvious, as in 
Java, it has naturally not been recognized in islands like 
Bali, where population-density is only a little more than half 
that of Java (though even so it exceeds 500 per square mile). 
The Balinese too live mainly on rice, grown on the lovely 
rice-terraces which add so much to the island's beauty. The 
planting and harvesting of the rice is a community affair, 
carried out under careful regulation and to the accompani- 
ment of shared rituals and ceremonies. Bali still just about 
fee4s itself : but if population continues to grow at its present 
high rate, it will seriously outstrip food-production in two 
or at most three generations. 

Bali provides an extreme illustration of another problem 
stemming from the general expansion of world population — 
the erosion of cultural variety. The Balinese have a rich and 
vital cultural tradition, in which beauty and significant 
participation are part of everyday living. Every aspect of 
life is marked by some celebration or embellished with some' 
form of decoration. Every Balinese participates in some form 
of creative activity — music, dance, drama, carving, painting, 
or decoration. What is more, the tradition is not rigid, and 
the culture is a living and growing one,' in which local ahd 
individual initiative are constantly introducing novelty and 
fresh variety. 

Bufc the Balinese are afflicted with many preventable 
diseases: they are largely illiterate (though far from un- 
cultured); their religion is now being undermined by the 
Christian missionaries who have at last been allowed to work 
in Bali; growing economic pressure forces them to take 
advantage of the flood of cheap mass-produced goods, 
originating from Western technology, to which they are now 
being exposed; their mounting population demands some 
adaptation to modern industrial life if living standards are 
to be raised or even maintained; and this in turn is imposing 
a Westernized* scientifically based system of compulsory 



Most foreign residents prophesy that Bali's vital culture 
is doomed, and will wither and die within ten or fifteen years. 
This may be over-gloomy, but certainly Balinese culture is 
in danger, and will die out or be ddbased by bastard western- 
ization unless something is cfone to check its decline. The 
question is what, and how? I can only hope that the Indon- 
esian Government will realize the value, to their own country 
and to the world, of this rich product of the centuries, and 
that Unesco will justify the C in its name — C for Culture — 
and do all in its power to help. No one wants to keep the 
Balinese ina state of ill-health and ignorance: but instead of 
being pushed by the well-meaning but ijl-considered efforts 
of over-zealous missionaries and administrators and "scienti- 
fic" experts to believe that their traditional culture is a 
symbol of backwardness, to be sacrificed on the twin altars 
of Christian doctrine and technological advance, they could 
be encouraged in the truer and profounder belief in the 
essential validity of their indigenous arts and ceremonials, 
and helped in the task of adapting them to modern standards. 
A traditional culture, like a wild species of Animal or plant, 
is a living thing. If it is destroyed, the world is the poorer; 
'nor can it ever be artificially re-created. But being alive, it 
can evolve to meet new conditions. It is an urgent but a 
sadly neglected task of the present age to discover the means 
whereby the flowerings of culture shall not be extinguished 
by the advances olf science and technique, but shall co- 
operate with them in the general enrichment of life. And in 
coping with this task we must not forget that population- 
increase can make it more difficult, by forcing people tathink 
more of how merely to keep alive, less of how to live. 

The situation of Siam ; or Thailand as it is now officially 
called, is in some ways not unlike that of Bali. It is not yet 
over-populated; it is in the fortunate position of producing 
enough rice not only to feed its own people but to export a 
considerable amount to less fortunate countries. Its people 
are well feyd and look cheerful. The general impression of 
happiness is in strong contrast with the depressing atmosphere 
of much of Indian life (though the stimulating feeling of 
devoted national effort and scientific leadership is also absent). 
Thailand is proud of its past, and especially of the fact that 

. l 9 l 


it alone of South-East Asian countries has never lost its inde- 
pendence. There is a traditional culture in which the bulk of 
the people are content to find fulfilment, though there is not 
so much active participation or artistic creativeness as in 

Thailand is crowded with various foreign organizations 
and agencies, international and national, which are giving 
advice and assistance on every possible subject — health and 
agriculture, democracy and scientific development; ad- 
ministration and industry, education and fish-ponds and 
rural community life. As a result, the traditional culture is 
being eroded or undercut. Food-production is beginning to 
go up and death-rates to fall; but unless birth-rates also 
fall, Thailand will lose her happy distinction among Asian 
countries and will become seriously over-populated well 
before the end of the century. 

A partial remedy would seem to lie in the better co- 
ordination of the various departments of Government and 
the motley collection of foreign agencies, and the framing 
of a comprehehsive plan which would take account of 
population and traditional culture as well as of food-produc- 
tion and industry, science and education. 

Fiji is another group of islands with another problem. Its 
population of about a third of a million is made up of two 
separate populations, which at present are about equal in 
numbers — the indigenous Fijians and the immigrant Indians 
— together with a handful of Europeans, Chinese and others. 

The history of the two populations is instructive. The 
impact of white intrusion caused, or at least was correlated 
with, a decline in Fijian numbers. These must have been 
nearly 200,000 in 1850, but only about 150,000 when the 
islands were taken over by the British in 1 874. A succession 
of epidemics, beginning with measles, which in 1875 killed 
40,000 people, and going on through whooping cough, 
influenza, dengue, and cerebro-spinal meningitis, steadily 
reduced the population, which numbered 1 1 5,000 at the 
first census in 1 88 1, to a low point well under 100,000. The 
health measures introduced by an alarmed administration 
then began to take effect. In the first decade of the twentieth 
century the decline was reversed, and a slow increase set in 



which, in spite of a bad setback from the Spanish Flu at the 
end of World War I, has continued to bring the Fijian 
population up to its present figure of around 140,000. 

Indian immigration started in 1 879, and has continued 
to the present day; but now ne&rly 90 per cent, of Indians in 
Fiji are native-born, and their rate of increase has gone up to 
a figure well above that of the Fijians. As a result the Indian 
population outstripped the Fijian during World War II, 
and isjiow over 1 50,000. If there is no change in the trends, 
Indians will in the space of two or three generations con- 
stitute a large majority of the islands' people. 

The two groups are very different in cujtural background, 
interests, and work-habits as well as in physique. The 
Fijians have the finest physique I have ever seen : they make 
good soldiers and wonderful athletes. But their athletic and 
war-like propensities have induced no very great keenness 
for Western education, and a definite dislike of regular 
agricultural work. As the economy of Fiji depends primarily 
on its sugar crop, labour for the sugar plantations had to be 
found: and the Indians have provided it. They make ex- 
cellent labourers and small farmers and traders, and have a 
•Rotable thirst for education. Deeming the Government's 
educational provisions inadequate, they have even started 
secondary schools on their own initiative and at their own 

*There is little intermarriage between the two groups, and 
indeed little liking. The Indians tend to regard the Fijians 
as barbarian and backward, while the Fijians (who still take 
a sneaking pride in their cannibal past) find the Indians 
effeminate and affect to despise their laborious way of life. 
However, there are now signs of a rapprochement, and some 
of the younger Fijians are realizing that they must change 
their attitude to 'work and to education if the Fijian com- 
munity is not to lapse into a sort of living fossil, cushioned 
by the protective measures of the colonial government. 

The fact, of rapid Indian increase has had various reper- 
.cussions. It has largely contributed to bring about this new 
Fijian attitude. And once this new attitude is realized in 
practice, and the Fijians accept Western standards more 
whole-heartedly, their death-rate is bound to fall and their 

G 193 


numbers to jump rapidly up. Since the Indian rate of in- 
crease shows no signs of falling, a demographic crisis looms 
ahead: Fiji will become over-populated within the lifetime 
of its younger inhabitants. This appears inevitable — unless 
something is done about it, something in the way of intro- 
ducing the people, Fijians and Indians alike, to the necessity 
and desirability of family limitation, and of providing birth- 
control facilities as an integral part of the health services. We 
can only hope that too much economic distress and* social 
misery will not be required to force the action that present 
intelligent foresight could undertake — and couldnow under- 
take with much le$$ difficulty than when the cohorts of the 
yet unborn have swelled the population to disastrous 

Australia is a storm-centre of demographic controversy. 
She is an entire continent (albeit the smallest of the seven), 
with an area of close on 3 million square miles — almost the 
size of the U.S.A. and nearly i\ times that of India — but 
with only 9 million human inhabitants. 

In spite of this low density of population — a mere three 
people to the square mile — she is committed to a White 
Australia policy, and admits no Asians or Africans (or I 
presume Amerindians) as immigrants. Yet she is on Asia's 
back doorstep. Australia lies only a few hundred miles 
from the eastern outposts of Indonesia, less than a thousand 
from its grossly over-populated heartland of Java, which has 
to carry six times Australia's number of people on a sixtieth 
of its area; and the three great swarming countries of Asia 
— India, China, and Japan — have for decades been casting 
longing eyes on Australian space as a possible outlet for 
their surplus people : if the Axis Powers had won the war, 
large-scale settlements of Japanese would undoubtedly have 
been imposed on Australia. 

However, Australia's open spaces are, from the point of 
view of human occupation, largely a mirage. Most of them 
are destined to remain indefinitely open, demographic blanks 
on the world's map. Three-quarters of Australia is desert with 
under ten inches of rain a year, or semi-desert with under 
twenty. And even this pittance of rainfall cannot be counted 
on : it comes in cycles. Again and again settlers have hope- 



fully taken up marginal land, only to have their hopes dashed 
by a succession of rainless years at the low point of the cycle. 

At the present time, only i\ per cent, of the land surface is 
being cultivated. It is true that Big irrigation schemes are 
being planned, and that the discovery that much poor land 
could be enriched by adding trace elements is heartening the 
farmers and vine-growers and pastoralists. But heavy addi- 
tions of fertilizers would also be needed, and these, like 
irrigation schemes, are expensive. 

Never is a big word : but it looks as if much of the land 
can never be brought into cultivation. Either there is no 
water at all for irrigation ; or the only water available is salty; 
or the soil is lateritic or otherwise wretched and wholly 
unworkable. I was driven down from Darwin to AJice 
Springs, three days and a thousand miles — a thousand miles 
of increasingly sparse bush on increasingly stony and barren 
soil, miserable and for the most part quite intractable to 
human effort. The best estimates put 7$ per cent, as the 
maximum area of Australia's surface which can be brought 
into cultivation, and even to achieve this will demand great 
effort and great expense. 

Australia is under-populated, in the double sense that it 
could support a larger population, and that a larger popula- 
tion would benefit its economy. How much larger is the 
question. Some say 50 million more people; but this seems 
\fcry over-optimistic. A total of 25 or at most 30 million 
seems more reasonable. And this would absorb less than one 
year's increase of Asia's population, less than five years' of 
that of India alone. 

Furthermore, though the Australian Government recog- 
nizes that Australia is t under-populated, and encourages 
immigration by assisted passages and settlement schemes, 
the country is fiard put to it to cope with the problem of 
keeping up living standards in face of the present rate of 
population-growth. This, when immigration is added to 
natural increase, is one of the highest in the world — some 
2^ per cent, per annum; and living standards can only be 
maintained if considerable capital and energy is diverted 
into industry and the exploitation of mineral wealth. Thus 
as soon as the problem is looked at not in the static terms of 



existing population-density and production but in terms of 
relative rates of change, the idea of Australia as an outlet for 
the spillover of Asia becomes chimerical. The highest rate 
of human absorption possible without jeopardizing economic 
health could not take care of more than a tiny fraction of 
Asia's annual increase. 

The White Australian policy remains as an affront to 
Asian sentiment. But this too has strong arguments in its 
favour. Certainly it cannot and should not be justified on 
racial grounds. There is no such thing as radical or per- 
manent racial superiority or inferiority: all races and ethnic 
groups are capabler of a high level of development and of 
participating effectively in human progress. 

IJut it can be justified on cultural grounds. It is an 
empirical fact that cultural differences can create grave 
difficulties in national development. They often do so when 
cultural and racial differences are combined. A large minority 
group which clings to its own standards and its own cultural 
and racial distinctiveness inevitably stands in the way of 
national unity and creates all sorts of social, political, and 
economic frictions. And if it multiplies faster than the rest of 
the population, the problem is aggravated, as we have seen" 
in Fiji. 

It is probably true that the introduction of brown, yellow, 
or black labour would, in the short run c give a boost to the 
exploitation of Australia's hot tropical northern areas. Bilt 
in the long run it would almost certainly result in complica- 
tions and difficulties which would far outweigh its immediate 

It should be put on record that there is little colour 
prejudice in Australia. The watchword for the aborigines, 
the only non-white permanent inhabitants 9f the continent, 
is now assimilation — a policy of gradually incorporating the 
blackfellows into the country's social and economic life. 
Under the Colombo Plan, and similar international schemes, 
Australia is now not only admitting a number of Asians as 
students or trainees, but giving them the best of oppor- 
tunities and a very friendly welcome. What Australia seeks 
to guard against is the creation of permanent racial-cultural 



Resources and their consumption are the obverse of the 
population problem* Like population, consumption shows 
alarming differentials as between different regions and 
nations. Even in food thbse are serious enough. The daily 
calorie intake of some countries, like Ireland, with 3500 per 
head, or the U.S.A., is more than double that of others, like 
Indias with only 1590. And these figures are of course only 

Energy used yearly Real Yearly Income 

per head north America p& head 

& & (& & t? A®&©&®@ 
£ & <s & M 


Each symbol is the ^ Each symbol is the 

energy got in practice ft O equivalent of £50 

from i Urn of coal + JB 

Annual consumption of energy and annual income in North America, 
Britain and Asia. 


averages : the under-privileged groups of the under-privi- 
leged countries will have a much lower intake, the over- 
privileged classes of the favoured countries a much higher 
one, giving nearly a fourfold instead of a twofold range. 

When we come to other resources, the contrasts are far 
more startling. The Paley Report found that "the quantity 
of most metals and mineral fuels used in the United States 
since the First World War exceeds the total use throughout 
the entire world in all of history preceding 1918". The U.S. 
consumes 80 times more iron per capita than India, while 

198 . 


in the field of energy the per capita consumption of the 
United States is double that of Britain qnd more than twenty 
times 'that of India. To-day, space-heating in the U.S.A. 
consumes one-third of all the world's oil ; another third goes 
for motor transport and othe# internal-combustion engines; 
leaving the remaining third for the needs of the rest of the 
civilized world. The fantastic disparity between countries 
can further be visualized by recalling that to produce the 
Sunday edition of the New York Times alone during one year 
one must cut down a forest roughly the size of Staffordshire. 

As facts, like these seep into the world's consciousness, 
they affect the world's conscience. Sucji inequalities, once 
brought into the open, appear intolerable. The underprivi- 
leged are feeling an increasingly strong sense of injustice, 
while the over-privileged are beginning to experience a sense 
of shame. This guilty feeling finds a partial outlet in the 
various international schemes for Technical Assistance and 
Aid to under-developed countries. But these schemes are 
not nearly bold or big enough. We need a World Develop- 
ment Plan on a scale at least tenfold greatef than all existing 
schemes put together, a joint enterprise in which all nations 
would feel they were participating and working towards a 
common goal. To achieve even the roughest of justice for 
all peoples, the favoured nations of the world will have not 
merely to cough up a fraction of their surpluses but volun- 
tarily to sacrifice some of their high standard of living; and 
to qualify for aid and indeed for membership of the inter- 
national development club, under-developed countries would 
have not only to pledge themselves to hard and intelligent 
work, but also to be willing to restrict their populations 
by initiating effective policies of birth-control and family 

Nothing short of this will ensure a reasonable and 
enduring balance between population and resources, and 
transform the present atmosphere of frustration into one of 

Since the end of the war, a small but hopeful beginning 
has been made. A new phenomenon has occurred in the 
world's history: the first official policies of population- 
control have been launched. What is more, they are not the 

. x 99 


desperate gestures of small countries helplessly seeking 
relief from overcrowding, but the deliberate instruments of 
two large and powerful nations, India and Japan. 

Japan I was unable to visit, but its demographic plight 
is so extreme and so illuminating that I will take it first. It 
is not only over-populated, but technically highly developed. 
It is an island country, with 90 million people crowded into 
an area only one and a half times as great as that of Britain, 
and so mountainous that there is only one-seventh of qn acre 
of cultivable land per head. And its population is increasing 
by over 1 per cent, per annum, so that within, ten years it 
will easily overshoe* the 100 million mark. 

The Japanese are not well-nourished: the average daily 
calorie intake is only 2000. They have, however, developed 
agricultural methods so efficiently that the rice yield per acre 
(rice is of course their staple food) is far the highest in Asia. 
Yet in spite of these two facts, they have to import a fifth of 
their food, and there is no prospect of their substantially 
increasing their rice yields further. 

The war has lost them their empire, and robbed them of 
their hopes of new outlets for settlement or emigration, 
while the fact that China has become Communist has, for - 
the time being at least, deprived Japan of its biggest market. 
It is only through United States aid that post-war Japan 
has been able to secure enough food to live and enough fuel 
to keep its industrial economy active. As' the P.E.P. Report 
on World Population and Resources says, "Japan is un- 
doubtedly the most over-populated great country there has 
ever bjeen." , 

In his Human Fertility, Robert C. Cook states the fourfold 
possibilities before Japan: (1) continued and increasing 
subsidization by the U.S. or other foreign powers; (2) 
immensely increased industrial and commercial develop- 
ment; (3) drastic population control; (4) a miracle. Both 
miracles and indefinite foreign aid are, to say the least of it, 
highly improbable, and an increase of industry and trade 
sufficient by itself to take care of population-increase is 
quantitatively impossible. So the Japanese Government have 
embarked on a £rm policy of population-control. There are 
only three ways of limiting population — by destroying the 



40 Rate a thousand ■ 
population I 

Birth, death and natural increase rates in Japan, 1920-19 5 3 
Note, — From 1920 till the early 1940s, birth- and death-rates irregularly 
declined with a wide gap between them, resulting in a large natural increase. 
In 1945 the war came to an end following the explosion of the first atom bombs 
and Japan was plunged in confusion. The death-rate rose sharply and became 
higher than the birth-rate, which decreased abruptly. Thereafter death-rates 
fell sharply, reaching a figure below nine a thousand in 1953. At the same 
time the birth-rate briefly shot up to the level of the early twenties, when the 
rate of natural increase exceeded 2 per cent a year. Later it fell Sharply. 
O* 201 


life of children after birth, of embryos and foetuses before 
birth, or of gametes before conception: in other words, 
infanticide, abortion, and conception-control. In Japan, 
infanticide persisted later than in any other civilized country, 
for it continued to be widely practised up till some eighty 
years ago, when it was dropped under the influence of the 
new policies of imperialism and population-expansion. These,- 
however, eventually brought not only disaster but a violent 
aggravation of the demographic problem, through th/s en- 
forced repatriation of 5 million people from the mainland of 
Asia after the war. Faced with this desperate situation, the 
Government took desperate measures. To implement a con- 
trary policy of self-sufficiency and population-control, it 
turned to abortion. In 1948, under the euphemistically titled 
"Eugenics Protection Law", termination of pregnancy was 
legalized and indeed encouraged. As a result, the number of 
induced abortions rose from a quarter of a million in 1 949 to 
well over a million in 1953. As was to be expected, the 
results on the health of Japanese women were serious and 
often deplorable— and yet the annual percentage rate of 
population-increase has not even been reduced to the pre- 
war level. 

With these stark facts in mind, in 1 954 the Japanese Min- 
ister of Health's Institute of Population Problems passed a 
strong resolution urging Government encouragement of 
conception-control, with widespread propaganda and the 
provision of birth-control facilities as part of the Health 
Services, as well as ample research and the inclusion of 
family .planning in the medical curriculum, and with the duty 
of medical men who have induced an abortion to provide the 
woman with information about birth-control. There are no 
recommendations for a family welfare service as in India; 
and in the following resolution — "in relation to wage pay- 
ments as well as the taxation system, measures should be 
taken to avoid provisions which may be interpreted as encour- 
aging large families" — the Council seem even to suggest the 
penalisation of couples who produce too many children. 

Drastic though these recommendations are, they or some- 
thing very like •them are necessary, and it is much to be 
hoped that they will be speedily and thoroughly imple- 



mented. If not, within a very brief space of time Japan will 
have been pushed into a state of explosive misery and frus- 
tration. If, on the contrary, they are successfully put into 
practice, they may not only savS Japan from disaster but 
will provide valuable lessons *for other countries. 

India's problem is rather different. The demographic 
situation is not so desperate (though if nothing is done to 
remedy it, it will become desperate within a few decades). 


( _ - Rate a thousand _ 
IOO. population | 






» i i i I i i » I i I i I 
IM0 1190 1900 1910 1920 1930 1940 

Estimated annual birth- and death-rates in India, 1 881-1946 

Note. — Until about 1900 birth- and death-rates fluctuated above and around 
40 a thousand. Shortly after 1900 the birth-rate assumed an ascendency which, 
with the exception of a short period about 19 19 during which death-rates 
soared into a sharp peak, has been maintained since. The peak in death-rates 
was caused by the pandemic of influenza, and was accompanied by a decline 
in the birth-rate. In the mid-thirties the birth-rate began to fall slightly, the 
decrease becoming temporarily more pronounced in the early forties.* 

Then India is not a small and insular country, but the best 
part of a sub-continent, with large. resources waiting to be 
developed. Here again, however, complacent optimism is 
out of place : it is difficult to see how enough new capital and 
new skill .could be made available fast enough to overtake 
existing population-increase and raise the general standard 
of living. Yet without this, there will be no automatic fall of 
the birth-rate, and the inexorable pressure of population will 



Again, India's rate of increase is not notably high. It is 
only just under per cent, per annum, which is lower than 
that in the U.S. (which is i-6 per cent., excluding immigra- 
tion). But there is an immense amount of leeway to make up 
before the barest minimum 6f decent living is achieved. 
The average daily calorie intake is a mere 1590, and at least 
two-thirds of India's 380 million people are under-nourished. 
Methods of cultivation and systems of land tenure afe 
primitive and will need a painful and difficult process of 
improvement before they begin to satisfy modern require- 
ments. Tradition, ignorance, and illiteracy are grave obstacles 
to progress; and so are superstitions like the sanctity of 
cows, unjust social systems like caste, and ancient habits like 
child marriage and the ban on the remarriage of widows. 

There is relatively little land which can fruitfully be 
brought into cultivation, even with the aid of large-scale 
emigration projects, and the outlets for emigration (which 
at the best of times could take care only of a small fraction 
of population-increase) are being steadily restricted. De- 
forestation has brought about a vicious spiral of decreasing 
fertility, through forcing the use of cow-dung as fuel, and 
so progressively robbing the soil of necessary ingredients. 
The influence of Gandhi's hostility to mechanization, though 
diminishing in face of obvious necessity, is still making itself 
felt. • 

Above all, the mere size of the problem is formidable. 
Even at the present rather modest rate, 5 million people are 
added each year: the net increase of India's population in the 
last decennial period between censuses was greater than the 
total population of Great Britain. 

The size of this human flood was forcibly brought home 
to me by the Kumbh Mela, which I visited in 1 954. The 
Kumbh Mela is a religious festival held at the junction of 
the two great rivers, the Jumna and the Ganges, at Allaha- 
bad. The assembled pilgrims acquire merit and salvation by 
bathing in the sacred waters. Every twelfth year, the festival 
is especially sacred: and the Kumbh Mela of 1954 was 
uniquely important as being the first of these twelfth-year 
high points to occur after India's independence. 

Pilgrims had come from all over the sub-continent — some 




walking hundreds of miles on foot, a few by plane or car, 
other§ by bullock-carts, others in convergent streams of 
special trains. The festival lasts for a couple of weeks, and 
anyone dying there during this period is believed to obtain 
great advantages in the latei* progress of his soul. But one 
day is especially holy, and to bathe on that day especially 
efficacious. Allahabad has not much more than a quarter of 
a 'million inhabitants: yet when we visited it, there were z\ 
million pilgrims encamped on the flats by the river, and 
three days later, on the great day of the festival, the number 
had grownpto 4 J million! Such quantities, though all drawn 
from one nation, dwarf the international gatherings of 
Rome's Holy Year or Islam's Mecca, and make the most 
famous pilgrimages of earlier centuries, like Compostel\a or 
Canterbury, seem small indeed. 

I shall never forget the spectacle of this enormous transi- 
tory human ant-heap, with its local condensation of crowds 
converging on to the temporary pontoon bridges over the 
Jumna to reach the sacred bathing-grounds. Crowds of this 
magnitude made a frightening and elemental impression: 
they seemed so impersonal and so uncontrollable. This 
impression was all too well justified by the shocking events 
of three days later, when the crowd got out of hand and 
trampled four hundred of its helpless individual members 
to death. % 

However, I must return from this visible manifestation 
of quantity to the statistical reality behind it. I have said 
that the net annual increase of India's population is about 
five million. But the potential increase is far greater? India 
is still in the early expanding stage of the population cycle. 
According to the latest available figures the birth-rate is high 
— about 40 per. 1 000, well over double that of north-western 
European countries — and shows few signs of dropping; and 
though the death-rate has begun to fall (it is now about 27 
per 1000) it has a long way to go yet before it approaches 
the level of advanced countries. The point is, however, that 
it has begun to fall, and is certain to fall considerably further 
in the next few decades, thanks to the policy of the Ministry 
of Health. A recent official report concluded that the adop- 
tion of quite elementary health measures, such as are well 



within the reach of an energetic Health Ministry, could 
save another 3 million lives a year. This, if nothing is done 
to control births, would bring India's net annual increase 
of population up to 8 million — roughly the equivalent of 

Calcutta was another manifestation of India's mere bulk. 
The hypertrophic overgrowth of cities has been a constant 
accompaniment of the growth of population: the hyper- 
trophy of Calcutta has been exceptionally rapid and severe. 
In 1 90 1 the population of greater Calcutta was under 1 
million: in 1941 it was about 2f million: to-dtfy it is over 
5 million. In spite of the notorious overcrowding of its 
appalling slums, at night the pavements are strewn with 
people who have nowhere else to sleep — just how many, 
nobody seems to know, but probably near 100,000 — and 
are forced to share the streets with the miserable roaming 
cattle. I shall always remember, as I drove thrdugh the 
busiest part of the city on the evening of my first day there, 
seeing a man and a cow approach a traffic refuge in a busy 
street from opposite angles, and compose themselves for 
the night on either side of the policeman directing the traffic. 
This urban hypertrophy was temporarily accentuated by ' 
floods of refugees after partition : but it will continue as long 
as over-population sends poor landless villagers crowding 
into the city in search of work. , 

The Government of the new, independent India born in 
1 947 showed a refreshing courage in grasping this formid- 
able nettle. Recognizing that superabundance of people was 
one of the major obstacles to Indian prosperity and Indian 
progress, they made the control of population a major plank 
in their first Five Year Plan. The Census Commissioner of 
India, in his report on the 1951 census, put the problem 
starkly in quantitative tferms. Efforts to keep pace with the 
existing rate of population-growth by increasing food-pro- 
duction were bound to fail, he said, when the population 
passed 450 million (which with existing trends will happen 
in less than fourteen years). If, however, India could "reduce 
the incidence of improvident maternity to about 5 per cent", 
an increase of i\ million tons a year in agricultural produc- 
tion would be sufficient to feed the people and bring "a 



visible reduction of human suffering and promotion of 
human happiness". 

Population-control was assigned to the Health Ministry, 
which set up a representative and quite strong Committee 
to advise the Minister (who,* improbably enough, was and is 
a woman and a Christian). Some valuable work is being 
•done. Thus this last year grants were made for research on 
new contraceptives and on the effectiveness and acceptability 
of existing ones; for the study of demographic problems 
such as the relation of high birth- and death-rates to social 
and economic conditions; for the establishment of a training 
centre for workers in the field of family. planning and mater- 
nal and child welfare; for educating public opinion about 
family planning and the need for population-control ; and to 
help the existing family planning ventures of State govern- 
ments and voluntary organizations. 

It is -encouraging that a great country like India should 
make population-control part of its national policy. But it 
must be confessed that the effects are as yet small, and that 
to the outside observer the execution of* the policy seems 
somewhat half-hearted. 

Let me take an example. The one large-scale experiment 
initiated by the Government itself has been a pilot study of 
the so-called rhythm method of birth-control or conception- 
avoidance, carriecj out at the Government's request by the 
World Health Organization. The Roman Catholic authori- 
ties, realizing that some means of family limitation are 
essential, but committed to the doctrinal thesis that ordinary 
birth-control methods are immoral because they involve the 
destruction of life and are allegedly "unnatural", have sanc- 
tioned the rhytftm method as being "natural", since it takes 
advantage of .the fact of human nature that women are 
infertile during part of each monthly period. (In paren- 
thesis, the method does involve just as much destruction of 
life as any other, since the man's living spermatozoa are all 
doomed .to die, and the woman's living ovum will perish 
unfertilized.) However, there is so much variation in the 
"safe period", both between individuals and between the 
period of one individual, that it is notoriously unreliable. 

I had # the opportunity when in India of visiting the chief 



centre of the project near Mysore (there was a second in 
Delhi), and or a long talk with the capable and attractive 
woman in charge, a Negro social scientist from the U.S.A. 
The results were interesting. In the first place, the encour- 
aging fact emerged that whefi the situation was properly 
explained, about three-quarters of the married people in the 
vill lage said they would like to learn some method of limiting 
their families — though in many cases their marriage partner 
said no. Then came the staff's task of discovering the^indi- 
vidual cycles of the women who wanted to learn, and then 
the women's task of practising the method. To facilitate this, 
each woman was given a kind of rosary, with the number of 
beads equal to the number of days of her usual cycle, and 
different-coloured beads for "safe days" and "baby days". 

A number of women managed to avoid pregnancy during 
the ten months of the experiment. The social scientist in 
charge thought about 20 per cent, of Indian villagers might 
learn to practice the method successfully: but this was a 
maximum, and in any widespread campaign the figure is 
more likely to be 15 or 10 per cent. Thus the general result 
of the study was what could have been expected — that the 
natural irregularities of the cycle, combined with the prac- 
tical difficulties of adjusting sexual behaviour to the rhythm, 
conspired to make the method quite inadequate as sole or 
main means of population-control. 

Methods used in Western countries are difficult to apply 
in India, partly because of the cost of appliances and 
materials, partly because of the lack of privacy and hygienic 
facilities in the vast majority of Indian homes. In addition, 
there is the persistent influence of Gandhi. Gandhi, as he 
narrates in his autobiography, indulged excessively in sexual 
pleasure after his marriage: indeed he considers that he was 
only enabled to continue his intellectual development by the 
abstinence enforced on him by the custom which sends the 
young Indian bride to her parents' home for a considerable 
part of each year. As a result of his self-disgust at his own 
indulgence, coupled with his general dislike of anything he 
considered as scientific materialism, he pronounced against 
all mechanical or chemical methods or birth-control, and 
solemnly recommended abstinence as the cure for India's 


popufation problem. In spite of the obvious absurdity of 
believing that this could possibly bq effective, Gandhi's 
prestige is still so great that his views still influence those of 
many people, notably by stiffenihg their resistance to the 
official use of normal methods of birth-control. 

The ideal solution would be the discovery of what laymen 
(to the annoyance of scientific and medical experts) persist 
in calling "The Pill" — something cheap and harmless which 
whenfaken by mouth will temporarily prevent conception — 
either by preventing ovulation or perhaps by rendering the 
ovum unfertilizable. A number of promising substances are 
being investigated, including some extracts of plants used 
by primitive peoples. But so far nothing satisfactory has 
emerged: one substance turns out to be an early aborti- 
facient, others have unpleasant side-effects, or are not fully 

However, our knowledge of reproductive physiology on 
the one hand and of biochemistry on the other has been so 
enormously increased in the last few decades that I would bet 
heavily that a solution can be found. But vft must work for 
it. It is no good relying on isolated or casual researches: a 
large-scale concerted programme is necessary, as it was for 
the atom bomb. If we were willing to devote to discovering 
how to control human reproduction a tenth of the money 
and scientific brain-power that we did to discovering how 
to release atomic energy, I would prophesy that we would 
have the answer within ten years, certainly within a genera- 

But I must return to India, One of the facts that prompted 
the Government to undertake the task of reducing popula- 
tion-increase was the ghastly recurrence of famine — not 
merely chronic under-nourishment or even hunger, but real 
famine, in which tens of thousands of human beings die of 
starvation. The last great Indian famine occurred quite 
recently, in 1952, when the rains had failed for two or three 
years over, wide areas, and a major tragedy was only averted 
by large-scale importations and gifts of wheat and other 
foodstuffs. While modern rapidity and efficiency of dis- 
tribution can thus alleviate local starvation, famines will 
continue to recur in India so long as population is not 




brought down into reasonable balance with food-production. 

The Government have made heroic efforts to increase 
food-production, and for the first time in modern history 
India has recently had a surplus of home-grown food. But, 
perhaps unfortunately, this his only been made possible by 
two good seasons of abundant rain : when the climatic cycle 
brings the bad years round again, as it inevitably will, fotfd 
will again fail, and hunger once more stalk the land. The 
long-term prospect is blacker: if population goes on increas- 
ing by 5 or more millions a year, food-production cannot 
possibly continue catching up with the mouths to be fed. 

Meanwhile the -Indian Government are devoting more 
and more attention to industrializing the country, both by 
way of small-scale village industries and large-scale techno- 
logical projects. They apparently consider that industry will 
be able not only to absorb much of the surplus population 
from the land but also to raise the general standard-serf living. 
However, while industrialization is highly desirable, it is 
chimerical to suppose that it alone can cope with the prob- 
lem. A radical reduction in the rate of population-increase 
is also necessary. Money and energy spent on birth-control, 
through the provision of free advice and free contraceptives, 
backed up by intensive propaganda, would be a better in- 
vestment than a corresponding sum devoted solely to pro- 
moting industrialization. 

One simple administrative change would be of great value 
— the creation of a separate Ministry of Population. So long 
as population problems are assigned to the Ministry of 
Health, as at present, they will be regarded as a subsidiary 
nuisance, hindering rather than helping the Ministry in its 
main enormous task of creating a healthier India. Although 
over-population of course creates its own .problems of ill- 
health, and although * family planning and birth-control 
services are best operated as part of a comprehensive Health 
Service, population and health demand very different ap- 
proaches : furthermore, to make population-control the prime 
task of a separate Ministry would be a spur to ministerial 
ambition and departmental zeal. 

In conclusion, let me return to where I began — the world 
situation. As I emphasized before, the crux of the problem 



lies in establishing a satisfactory balance between the world's 
resources and the population which consumes or uses the 

The resources consumed fall 'under two main heads — 
agricultural and non-agricultural. Food is the prime agri- 
cultural resource, but fibres and wood are also necessary, and 
their production often competes with food-growing. Non- 
agricultural resources include mineral and other inorganic 
raw rpaterials on the one hand, and energy sources on the 

The careful survey made by P.E.P. discusses the pros- 
pects of the world's main resources in .some detail for the 
next twenty-five years, and in more tentative fashion up to 
the year 2000. For the many interesting specific points, I 
must refer my readers to the P.E.P. Report. Meanwhile I 
quote its broad summary of the situation: First, "there is no 
need to* take account of the probable rapid increase of 
population to predict a world food-deficiency : one of appal- 
ling magnitude already exists". The general conclusion is 
"that, considered simply on a global basis, the requirements 
of energy, minerals, and raw materials can probably be met 
[during the coming twenty-five years], but that supplying 
the necessary foodstuffs to feed the expected newcomers and 
also to bring about substantial and lasting improvement in 
the position of the^many millions now underfed is likely to 
prove exceedingly difficult and increasingly precarious. 
Several economic difficulties, notably in capital formation, 
must also be expected." For energy resources, the prospect 
continues reasonably bright up to the end of the century, 
but for food it appears increasingly gloomy, though the 
difficulties of accurate forecasting are greater. 

This forecast it must be repeated, applies only to global 
consumption. Actually, of course, individual countries differ 
enormously both in productivity and in consumption, as 
well as in rates of population-increase, and there are many 
obstacles to easy diffusion of any surplus resources to where 
they are most needed. Accordingly, when we take regional 
and local differences into account, the situation appears more 
serious and the prospect much blacker. • 

I have already mentioned the almost grotesque differ- 
ed 1 1 


ences in consumption that exist between various countries. 
The exaggerated consumption by a few favoured nations of 
such resources as oil, newsprint, and various important 
minerals show little sign bf decreasing, while for food, the 
general trend at present is '^making the distinction even 
greater between the well-nourished and the under-nourished 
regions of the world". The rise in domestic living standard's 
in food-exporting countries is reducing the amount of food 
they have available for export, for instance of n^at in 

Everything points to one conclusion. While every effort 
must be made to increase food-production, to facilitate dis- 
tribution, to conserve all conservable resources, and to 
shame the have nations to a fairer sharing of the good things 
of the world with the have-nots, these alone cannot prevent 
disaster. Birth-control is also necessary, on a world scale 
and as soon as possible. • 

The portentous threat of atomic warfare has brought 
humanity to its senses and the Big Four to Geneva, and 
opened up the pfospect of a world without major war. It has 
been so horrible and so urgent that it has overshadowed the 
equally portentous threat of over-population. If the political 
detente persists, population problems could begin to receive 
the attention they deserve. Their urgency might again bring 
the leaders of the peoples together, and open up the prospect 
of a world without major over-population. 

But time presses. New year will add nearly 34 million 
people to humanity's total, and certainly for two or three 
decades to come, each successive year will add more. If 
nothing is done soon, world over-population will be a fact 
well before the end of the century.. 

It has taken just one decade from Hiroshijna for the world 
to face up resolutely to«the implications of atomic war: can 
we hope that it will take no more than a decade from last 
year's World Population Conference in Rome for the world 
to face up equally resolutely to the implications of over- 



Th e opening scene of that glorious satire, Of Thee I Sing, 
reveals a party caucus with an admirable presidential 
candidate but no ideas. They accordingly ask the hotel 
chambermaid, as representative of the People, what most 
people aro most interested in, and are unhesitatingly 
answered "Love". And so love becomes the chief plank in 
their platform. 

The first thing we know about love is what the chamber- 
maid's answer implied — that for most people it is the most 
absorbing and interesting subject in existence. (In 1954 the 
Russian^ at the Second Congress of Soviet Writers, officially 
rediscovered this important social fact.) Love can send young 
people eloping to Gretna Green, break up families, reduce 
strong men to love-sick slaves, even lead to'murder or make 
kings lose their thrones; it can also energize human lives, 
induce the writing of a great deal of verse, including some of 
the finest poetry, induce states of ecstasy otherwise unattain- 
able by the great majority of men and women, and provide 
the substance for most of our emotional dreaming. 

This statement needs two qualifications. While it applies 
to contemporary Western peoples and doubtless to many 
others, it is not true for all cultures : sometimes war or hunt- 
ing may take first place. Secondly, love as a plank in the 
chambermaid's personal platform and as an engrossing 
subject of popular interest means only one kind of love — the 
romantic sexual # kind, the fact of "being in love". 

It is almost impossible to give a formal definition of any- 
thing so complex and general as love. All I can do is to 
indicate some of the range of meanings comprised in this 
one little jvord. There is mother-love and self-love, father- 
love and grandmother-love, and children's love for their 
parents; there is brotherly love (which gave Philadelphia its 
name) and love of one's country; there is being in love, and 
.making love; one can say that a man loves his food, though 



good manners dictates that he should not say it himself 
(when I as a small boy said I would love some chicken, my 
great-aunt rebuked me with the Victorian rhyme "You may 
love a screeching owl; you may not love a roasted fowl"). 

Many poeple love dancing*; there are music-lovers, art- 
lovers, sport-lovers, dog-lovers, bird-lovers, sun-lovers, 
mountain-lovers; most of us have an intense and deep-- 
rooted love of the surroundings in which we grew up; 
ministers assure us that God loves us and insist that we 
should love God, while Jesus adjured us to love our enemies ; 
and there is love of money and love of power. . . 

All these are legitimate and normal usage : in its compre- 
hensive sense, love clearly includes all of them. But equally 
clearly, the love in which one can be or into which one can 
fall is for most of us somehow pre-eminent over all other 

Being in love is a special case of love as a general human 
capacity. It is love at its most intense, and love personally 
focused and directed in a very special way. Our common 
speech reflects this fact. We talk of falling in love, as if it was 
something outside us, into which we are precipitated sud- 
denly, accidentally and against our will, like falling into a 
pond. We say that X is infatuated with Y, or bewitched by 

suddenness and the sense of compulsion in the symbol of 
Cupid the blind archer, whose arrows inflict a magic wound 
on our emotional being. 

Love at first sight (though of course not universal or 
indeed usual) is a frequent occurrence, surprising as a fact 
for scientific consideration as well as to those who experience 
it. But even when we are in love .with someone we have 
known for months or years, the actual falj/ng in love has 
been often, perhaps usually, not a gradual process but a 
sudden moment. Being in love, whether we fall suddenly or 
grow gradually into it, always has an element of compulsion, 
a sense of being possessed by some extraneous and magical 
power. Lovers are obsessed by an image of the loved one, to 
whom they ascribe every virtue and merit. Outside observers 
of the phenomeaon speak of the lover's madness; and love is 
proverbially blind. 

Classical mythology expressed the 



The lover experiences a sense of heightened vitality and 
finds a new significance in life. Mere contemplation of the 
beloved becomes a wellspring of the highest enjoyment. The 
lover seeks the presence of the be'loved. Merely to see her 
(or him) from a distance is to feast the soul as well as the 
eyes; and to touch her is an inspiring bliss. But when, 
tlwough two hands and two pairs of eyes, the two souls can 
interpenetrate, an even more magical state is achieved, as 
described in Donne's poem The Ecstasy. 

. . » Our hands were firmly cemented 
By a fast balm which thence did spring; 

Our eye-beams twisted, and did thread 
Our eyes upon one double string. . . . 

As 'twixt two equal armies Fate 
» Suspends uncertain victory, 
Our souls — which to advance their state 
Were gone out — hung 'twixt her and me. 

And whilst our souls negotiate there, 

We like sepulchral statues lay; 
All day the same our postures were, 

And we said nothing, all the day. 

Modern psychology has rightly abandoned the term soul, 
because of the philosophical and theological implications 
that have become attached to it; but we can translate it as 
meaning the unitary inner core of our conscious selves and 
this sense of the going out of our essential being and of its 
interpenetrating br uniting with another being is one of the 
hall-marks of Being in love. 

This is embodied in one of the loveliest epigrams of the 
Greek Anthology : 

Tjjv ifivxr)v 'Ayadwva <f>iXwv ini xeiXeatv eaxov 
VjXde yap T) rX^fuuv co? Sia/fyao/icwj. 

As I kissed Agathon, I had my soul in my lips; for the rash creature 
came thither as if to pass across. 



For true lovers, the act of physical union is actuated not 
merely or indeed mainly by the desire for pleasure but for 
the transcendent sense of total union which it can' bring. 
William Blake rightly rebukes the puritans who 

Call a shame and sin 
Love's temple that God dwelleth in . . . 
And render that a lawless thing 
On which the soul expands its wing. 

And Robert Bridges reminds us how the lower is necessarily 
incorporated in the higher: — 


We see Spiritual, Mental and Animal 
. To be gradations merged together in growth, . . . 
. . . And that the animal pleasure 
Runneth throughout all graces heartening all energies. 

Even children may fall in sudden love, long before 
puberty and its hormones have actuated the full sexual urge. 
The classical ekample is Dante, who ' fell in love with 
Beatrice when she was just eight and he nearly nine. In his 
Vita Nuova — The New Life — he has left an immortal 
description of the event which coloured all his later exist- 
ence. "At that instant, the spirit of life which dwells in the 
heart's most secret chamber began to tremble so violently 
that all the pulses of my body shook; and in trembling it 
said these words : 'Here is a god stronger than I, who is come 
to rule over me.' " 

Ha only saw her a fe^y more times, and she died at the 
age of twenty-five. But his love dominated the rest of his 
life, and inspired his great work. The distinction between 
love and sex is very obvious here. Dante reserved his fullest 
and highest love for a w^oman whose hand he had never even 
touched, but had four children by the excellent wife he later 
married. However, before dealing further with this question, 
I want to say something about the evolution and develop- 
ment of love — its evolution in nature apart from man, and 
its development in individual human beings. 

People sometimes ask what purpose love serves in nature. 
But a biologist cannot answer a question framed in terms of 

216 . 


purpose, for purpose implies deliberate design for a con- 
scious end, and there is no evidence pf that in the natural 
world! To be biologically answerable , the question should 
run, "What functions does love* perform in living organ- 
isms?" Even so, the biologist cannot give a nice simple or 
single answer, for among animals there are various different 
kinds of love, expressed in various different ways, and mani- 
fested in different degrees of clarity and intensity. There has 
been an evolution of love, as of every other property of life, 
and we must supplement our question by asking how the 
different kinds of love have evolved. 

In many young mammals, like kittens, some adult 
mammals, like otters, and various adult birds, like penguins 
and rooks and swifts, we find something closely akin to pur 
love of play or sport — the enjoyment of bodily performance 
for its own sake, irrespective of its practical utility. Among 
birds there is the beginning of a love of beauty, manifested 
in the collection of bright objects by jackdaws and magpies, 
and in bowerbirds by a preference for certain colours and 
by their deliberate painting of their bowet-s. The roots of 
love of country are shown in the attachment of many kinds 
of birds and mammals to their home territory, and of love 
of nature in such rituals as the high aerial dawn-chorus of 
swallows and martins. 

Finally, animals show several different types of love in the 
restricted sense — love focused on other individuals. There 
is parental love, of parent for offspring; there is offspring 
love, of offspring for parent ; there is sexual love, between 
actual or potential mates ; and there is social love, fonother 
individuals of the same species. The roots of social love are 
found in gregarious animals, and are manifested in the distress 
caused by solitude and the impulse to seek the company of 
their fellows. 

Parental love is in most species only maternal. In many 
mammals and in all polygamous birds, the mother alone is 
concerned .about the young — think of bears or sheep or the 
domestic hen. But in some fish and toads and a few birds, 
like emus and phalaropes, it is the male alone that looks 
after eggs and young; and of course in all our familiar song- 
birds the cock bird helps to feed the young once they have 



been hatched by the hen, while in birds like grebes and 
gannets, auks and petrels and penguins, both cock and hen 
share equally in incubation too. Comparatively few insects 
show parental love (the female earwig is one), and in those 
where it is most developed, namely bees and ants, it is not 
strictly speaking parental love but maiden-aunt love (or 
nurse love if you like), for it is only the neuter females, the 
so-called workers, that have the instinct to look after the 
eggs and grubs. 

This brings up an important point. In animals, parental 
(and nurse) love is purely instinctive; not only. the urge to 
care for the young, but also the detailed ways in which it 
manifests itself, depend on inborn nervous mechanisms, and 
do not have to be learned. Furthermore, like all instincts, 
parental love, though doubtless associated with strong emo- 
tions, is blind and automatic. It is a psychological mechan- 
ism which works admirably in normal conditions, but is apt 
to go astray in abnormal ones. Thus a worker wasp which 
was kept from access to food for the young was seen to satisfy 
its nurse-instintft by biting off the hind 'end of a grub and 
offering it to the front end 1 

The same blind imprisonment of instinctive behaviour 
within a limited situation is seen even in birds and mammals. 
Thus song-birds only pay attention to their young so long 
as they are in the nest. When a cuckoo has ejected its foster- 
brothers and -sisters, the parents take no notice of their cries 
of distress, even if they are hanging on a twig just outside 
the nest. And even in normal circumstances it is not the 
sight of the young bird as an individual that impels the 
parents to feed it, but merely the colour and shape of its 
gaping mouth : they will feed an artificial gape or painted 
wood (if properly made) just as readily as their own nest- 
lings. And a cow distressed by the removal of her calf can 
be comforted by its skin. 

The same sort of thing holds for the sexual instinct. 
Certain orchids get pollinated by looking aijd perhaps 
smelling like female flies: the male flies try to mate with 
them, and in so doing transfers the fertilizing pollen from 
flower to flower. Similarly many birds will attempt to mate 
with a stuffed dead female as readily as with a real live one — 



provided that it is set up in a certain pose; and the sperm for 
artificial insemination in cattle and horses can be obtained 
because the mating urge of bulls and stallions is aroused by 
suitable dummies as well as by liVe cows or mares. 

But the mental life of bh'ds, for instance, is a curious 
mixture, in which some types of emotional behaviour are 
carried out blindly, crudely, and wholly instinctively, while 
others depend on detailed learning. A cock robin, for in- 
stance^(not the fat American robin, which is really a thrush, 
but our little European robin redbreast), will be automatic- 
ally and irsationally stimulated to his threat-display by the 
sight of a red breast, whether on a live rival, a stuffed bird, 
or a headless and tailless dummy; but he learns the difference 
between his mate and all other hen robins and can recognize 
her individually afar off. 

The robin's red breast and the gape of nestling birds are 
examples of what are called releasers — they are visual sign- 
stimuli which release the action of innate impulses and 
chains of activity, in the one case of hostility or aggression, 
in the other of service or affection — the beginnings of hate 
and of love. 

In polygamous-promiscuous species like ruff and sage- 
grouse and blackcock, the sexes never meet except on a 
communal display-ground, and the males' sexual "love" is 
merely the urge to physical mating, expressed in violent 
antics serving to intimidate rivals or stimulate mates by 
showing off the exaggerated masculine display-plumage. 

In most birds, however, there is an emotional bond be- 
tween mates, and the pair stays together, either for the 
brood, or for the season, or, in a number of species, for life. 
Life-mates like to' be close together even in the winter, as you 
may see with jackdaws, 't his emotional bond is clearly one of 
the forerunners of human married love. 

In some water-birds, such as grebes, where male and 
female share equally the duties of incubating the eggs and 
feeding the young, there are elaborate ceremonies of mutual 
display, participated in by both mates together, and obvi- 
ously highly stimulating to the emotions. What is more, 
some displays are not confined to the period of courtship or 
physical mating, but continue right through the breeding 



season, until the young are full-grown. Here I would say the 
rituals of animal lovp find their fullest expression. 

Though from the standpoint of the species this emotional 
bond has been evolved for the utilitarian function of keeping 
the mated pair together whilfc their joint efforts are needed 
for the successful rearing of their young, from that of the 
individual birds the ceremonies are clearly very satisfying 
and have emotional value in themselves. 

Emotional life in animals is essentially a patchwork. 
Particular urges or emotions arise in particular circum- 
stances, and usually stay in separate channels. Fear may 
dictate behaviour for a period, then suddenly hunger steps 
in, then perhaps sexual desire. Animals lack man's capacity 
to # bring together many different urges and emotions, 
memories and hopes, into a single continuity of conscious 
life. The main exception to this, interestingly enough, con- 
cerns love. Both in the parent-offspring relation and in that 
between the two sexes, attraction and hostility are often 
combined. The primary reaction of a nestling or a brooding 
heron to the appearance of an adult at the nest is fear and 
hostility: before the arriving bird is accepted as parent or as 
mate, it must be recognized as such; and recognition is* 
effected by a special "appeasing" display. This in turn forms 
the basis for the elaborate ceremony of nest-relief, which 
finally serves as an emotional bond between the mated pair. 

In many birds' species, during the ''courtship" period, 
the sight of a bird of the opposite sex often acts as a 
sign-stimulus releasing both hostility (as an alien intruding 
individual) and attraction (as a potential mate). Thus the 
unmated male house-sparrow in possession of a nest-site 
endeavours to attract passing females, but if one tries to 
enter the nest he will attack her, and evei\ after they have 
accepted each other as' mates, it may be two or three days 
before she is allowed into her future home. 

The courtship-displays of many species turn out to be 
ritualizations of this ambivalent emotion compounded of 
attraction and either hostility or fear (and show many 
parallels with human courtship, especially in young people). 
The male bird's aggressivity may be transformed into a 
stimulating display of masculinity and desire, and female 



timidity often expresses itself by reverting to infantile de- 
pendence, with adoption of the nestling's food-begging 

Thus love, in the sense of positive attraction between 
individuals, has arisen during biological evolution in the 
form of a patchwork of distinct urges or drives, each serving a 
distinct biological function. The mechanism of each separate 
kind of love is largely built in to the species by heredity. 
For the most part, each drive is automatically activated by 
a sign-s\imulus functioning as a releaser, a distinctive pattern 
of sight or s»und (like the gape of the nestling for stimulat- 
ing the parental feeding drive of its parents, or the "song" 
of male grasshoppers for the sexual approach of the female) ; 
and is expressed in a genetically predetermined set of actions 
(like the displays of amorous male birds). Learning "by 
experience plays only a secondary role, or sometimes no 
role at alV 

Further, there is little synthesis of the separate drives into 
a coherent or continuous mental life. However, desire is often 
frustrated, and attraction often compounded with hostility or 
fear, and the resultant conflict is reconciled in the perform- 
•ance of some ritualized ceremony of display. This may then 
be further specialized during subsequent evolution to pro- 
vide more effective stimulation of the female, or be converted 
into a mutual ceremony serving as a bond to keep the mated 
pair together; and such ceremonies, especially the mutual 
ones, may come to have emotional value in themselves. 

"'Tis love, 'tis love that makes the world go round," sang 
the anonymous ballad-monger. And certainly love, iji its 
dawning manifestations among animals, secures the per- 
petuation of the Species and the care of offspring, lays the 
foundations of more or less perm-inent marriage unions, and 
may even emerge as a value in itself. • 

When we come to our own species, we find a certain 
general parallel between the process of individual develop- 
ment of lov,e in man and that of its evolution in animals, but 
also many important differences. There is more reliance on 
learning by experience, less on inborn genetic mechanisms. 
However, two or three inborn sign-stimuli d9 seem to exist. 
One is the smile. Even a crudely grimacing model of a 



smiling face will elicit from an infant a smile (and the 
positive mood which goes with smiling and is one of the 
bases of enjoying and loving). And women's breasts (though, 
as Dr Johnson pointed oift, not feeding-bottles) will act as a 
powerful sign-stimulus to male sexual love. 

Non-sexual loves of many kinds appear and develop in the 
growing child. At the outset are the simple basic desires for 
food and warmth and protection, soon transmuted into love 
of enjoyment and contentment, general satisfaction and ful- 
filment. Then the personal focusing of love on to the indi- 
viduals that provide what is desired — first mother or nurse, 
then father, brothers and sisters, and other children. Then 
the widening of the circle of love and of personal attachment 
(Walt Whitman speaks of the "fluid and attaching char- 
acter" that some people seem to exude); and finally, love for 
the beautiful or the strange, the thrilling or the significant. 

These more complex loves may sometimes attain the in- 
tensity of passions. The full force of a child's emotions may 
be bound up with some shell or curious stone that he has 
found: or the experience of beauty may change his whole 
emotional attitude to life. Let Wordsworth speak: 

My heart leaps up when I behold 

A rainbow in the sky: 
So was it when my life began; 
So is it now I am a man; 
So be it when I shall grow old, 

Or let me die! 
The Child is father of the Man; 
And I could wish my days to be 
Bound each to each by natural piety. 

Or again, in his famous Ode: 

There was a time when meadow, grove and stream, 
The earth, and every common sight, 
To me did seem 
Apparell'd in celestial light, 
The glory and the freshness of a dream. 



"T^e hour of splendour in the grass, of glory in the 
flower" may pass and fade, but the # experience of love 
for natural beauty, of enhanced vitality and the upleaping 
heart, of self-transcendence in lovihg union with something 
outside oneself, may change x growing human being per- 
manently, and can enter later into his love for God, for 
sameone of the other sex, for ideals. As one of Truman 
Capote's characters says, apropos of a jay's lovely blue egg 
that she had kept from childhood, "love is a chain of love. 
. . . Because you can love one thing, you can love another." 

The growing child comes to love many different kinds of 
things in many different ways — sometimes with the self- 
centred desire for possession; sometimes with the self- 
transcending desire for unity with the object of desire, or the 
outgoing sense of communion in the act of experience," as 
with Richard Jefferies' or Thomas Traherne's mystical 
experiences of the beauty and wonder of nature; sometimes 
with the enriching of enjoyment in the full and free exercise 
of his faculties, physical or psychological. 
• And then, at puberty, there is the intrusion of the sexual 
impulse. The sex impulse appears as an alien power, strong, 
new and often frightening. The experience is all the more 
upsetting because the new power, though alien to our past life 
or present make-up, is yet within us, a part of ourselves. The 
central problem of adolescence is, in general, how to in- 
corporate this intruding force into the developing person- 
ality; and in particular, how to integrate sex and love. This is 
especially acute because of the disharmony between man's 
biological nature and his social arrangements, the fac* that 
there is a gap of years between the time when the sexual 
impulse emer^esT (and emerges at maximum strength, at 
least in boys, as Dr Kinsey has shown) and the time when 
marriage is possible. 

Adol escence is also the time when love, as distinct from 
sexual desire, alters its character. At puberty romantic ideal- 
ism raises # its head as well as sex: and another problem of 
adolescence is how to integrate this idealism with the hard 
facts of existence, and romance with the practical business 
of living, , 

Man, however, differs from all other animals in having 



a brain which can and largely does bring all the various 
elements of experience into contact, instead of keeping them 
in a series of wholly or largely separate compartments or 
channels. This not only provides the basis for conceptual 
thought, and so for all man's ideas and philosophic systems, 
ideals and works of art and creative imagination, but also 
for his battery of complex sentiments unknown in animate, 
such as reverence and religious awe, moral feelings (includ- 
ing hate and contempt arising from moral abhorrence), and 
love in its developed form. 

It also, however, provides the basis for emotional or 
psychological conflict on a scale unknown in animals. One of 
the unique characters of man is his constant subjection to 
mental conflict, with the resultant necessity for making 
moral decisions. Man's morality, indeed, is a necessary 
consequence of his inner conflicts. 

Nowhere is this better illustrated than in love. Strong 
sexual desire, as well as the reverent worship of beauty, self- 
fulfilment, and ideal aspiration, plays a part in human love. 
But crude sexual desire in itself is merely lust and is uni- 
versally regarded as immoral, and to many people the sexual 
act appears as something dirty or disgusting. 

However, love at its truest and fullest and most intense 
can include in its single embrace an enormous range of 
emotions and sentiments, and fuse them all, even those of 
baser metal, in its crucible. It can comDine humility with 
pride, passion with peace, self-assertion with self-surrender; 
it can reconcile violence of feeling with tenderness, can 
swallow up disgust in beauty and imperfection in fulfilment, 
and sublimate sexual desire into joy and fuller life. 

It can, but it does not always do so. Sometimes the in- 
hibitions of morality or romantic idealism are too strong, 
and the fusion is imperfect, the reconciliation remains in- 
complete. This is especially so in puritan cultures and 
religions imbued with a sense of sin. St Paul's attitude to 
sexual love is expressed in his dictum that it is better to 
marry than to burn: tormented souls like St Augustine and 
Tolstoy came to regard sexual love not as fulfilment but as 
sin, and Gandhi's autobiography tells us how his early 
indulgences drove him later to prescribe — for others 1 — 



self-aAtrol and abstinence instead of the ideal of pure enjoy- 
ment, of joy disciplined and transformed by tenderness, 
reverence, and beauty. 

Sometimes, indeed, love involves contradictory and un- 
reconciled emotions. In one of his most famous poems, 
Catullus wrote 

Odi et amo : quare id faciam, fortasse requiris. 
Nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior. 

"I hate^and love: how can that be, perhaps you ask? I know 
not, but so ^feel, and am in torment." The hero of Somerset 
Maugham's Of Human Bondage is intellectually aware of 
the imperfections and indeed the unattractiveness of the girl 
he is in love with, but remains emotionally enslaved by her. 

In love, indeed, the conflict between reason and emotfon 
is often at highest pitch. However, though falling in love is 
irrational^ or at least non-rational, yet love can be (though it 
is not always) later influenced by reason and guided by 
experience. Emotion in general is non-rational; it tends to 
all-or-nothing manifestations and is naturally resistant to the 
critical and balanced spirit of reason. And the emotions 
involved in love are so violent that this uncritical or anti- 
critical tendency readily overrides reason. That is why love 
is called blind, why it may become a kind of madness or 
sickness. But reason can play a part later. With time, as 
the emotional violeftce of love diminishes and rational ex- 
perience accumulates, a point may suddenly be reached at 
which reason gains the upper hand, the deluded lover's 
eyes are opened, he realizes that he has been blind, an # d he 
falls out of love as he once fell in. Such experiences are use- 
ful though harsh -reminders of the sad fact that emotional 
certitude alone* is never ft guarantee of Tightness or truth, 
in religious or nforal belief any more; than in love : sudden 
religious conversion resembles falling in love in many ways, 
including its non-rationality. 

Luckily for the human race, love often chooses aright. 
And then reason and emotional experience may give it eyes 
to see and may transform a transient madness into the highest 
and most enduring sanity. This rationally gjuided transfor- 
mation and development of love has been immortally 

H 225 


described by Wordsworth in his poem, Perfect Woman. It 
is too long for me to quote in its entirety, but you will recall 
how it begins with a magical, altogether non-rational 
moment — * 

She was a Phantom of delight 

When first she gleam'd upon my sight; 

how experience altered the vision — 

I saw her upon nearer view, 
A Spirit, yet a Woman too! 

and how it finally transformed sudden magic into permanent 
serenity — 

And now I sec with eye serene 
The very pulse of the machine . . . 
A perfect Woman, nobly planned, 
To warn, to comfort, and command ; 
And yet a Spirit still, and bright 
With something of angelic light. 

Often, however, love does not choose right the first time. 
I should rather say, first love often does not choose perman- 
ently right. Many teen-age "pashes" and "crushes", how- 
ever violent at the time, and many cases of adolescent 
calf-love, though often valuable and indeed "right" in the 
sense of providing necessary experience to the callow 
personality, are soon outgrown. 

Even when it comes to marriage, many first choices are 
wrong, and later ones may be much more right. The relation 
between love and marriage urgently needs reconsideration. 
For one thing, in our Western societies, we Have become too 
credulous about romantic love, just as earlier ages were too 
credulous about religious faith. Both can often be blind, and 
then both can mislead us. For another, we have become 
obsessed with the rigid moralists' stern insistence on the 
inviolability and indissolubility of marriage — a religious 
doctrine imposed on a social bond. 

The emotional certitude of being in love with someone 
does not guarantee either its rightness, or its uniqueness, or 



its pefmanence, any more than it ensures that the love shall 
be reciprocated. And the undoubted general desirability, both 
social afnd personal, of long-enduring mtmogamous marriage 
does not preclude the occasional desirability of divorce and 
change of marriage-partner, qpr justify the branding of any 
extra-marital love as a grave social immorality or personal 

Our reconsideration should be related to the idea of 
greater fulfilment. Of course conflicts will inevitably arise 
betwedti greater fulfilment for oneself, for one's partner, 
one's children, and one's community; but they will then be 
better illuminated and more readily soluble than in the light 
of romantic illusion, religious dogma, or static and absolute 

It must be remembered that love and its manifestations 
differ in different societies and cultures. We find a differen- 
tiation ^nd development of love as part of the general 
cultural evolution of man. Margaret Mead and other anthro- 
pologists have shown to what a surprising extent cultures 
may differ in their general attitude to love,, both sexual and 
parental, and in their expression of it. Masculinity may be 
valued either higher or lower than femininity, ardour and 
passion higher or lower than coolness and acceptance; 
parental love may be either indulgent or strict to children, 
or its expression, warm and full in early years, may be 
suddenly withdraw from the child at a certain age; the 
attitude of society both to pre-marital love-making and post- 
marital love-affairs may differ enormously. 

A striking example of the evolution of love is the rise of 
the idea of romantic love in medieval Europe. This found an 
exaggerated expression in the ballads of the troubadours and 
the rituals of dhivalry, btit has left a permanent mark on our 
Western civilization. . 

Love presents, in intensive form, man's central and 
perennial problem — how to reconcile the claims of the 
individual and of society, personal desires with social aims. 
The problem is perhaps most acute in adolescence, for this 
involves a disharmony of timing: our sexual desires arise, 
and in males arise in fullest force, several years before mar- 
riage is desirable or possible. Different cultures have met 



this problem in very different ways. Thus in eighteenth- 
century England and nineteenth-century France it was the 
acknowledged thing for upper-class young men to take 
a mistress, while this was frowned on in Geneva and New 
England. In twentieth-centuyy America, dating and petting 
have superseded "bundling" as the recognized formula. 

Many primitive societies go further, and institutionalise 
adolescent love. Thus among the Masai of East Africa the 
boys after initiation become Moran or Warriors and live in 
communities with the initiated girls, sharing what seems to 
be a very agreeable love-life. Only after some years do they 
marry, and from then on, extra-marital love is severely 
frowned on. Their neighbours, the Kikuyu, had a somewhat 
similar system, in which, however, full sexual intercourse 
was not permitted. The same sort of arrangement prevails 
among the Bontocs of the Philippines, as recorded by 
Stewart Kilton in his Dream Giants and Pygmies. Here, as 
among country-folk in England until quite recently, adol- 
escent love-making serves also as a try-out of fertility. A girl 
can only marry if she conceives; and sterfle girls become "a 
sort of educational institution" for young boys. 

In modern civilization the problem is very real and very 
serious. On the one hand, clearly both undisciplined indulg- 
ence and complete promiscuity in love are individually 
damaging, or anti-social, or both; but on the other hand, 
complete repression of this most powerful of impulses is 
equally damaging, and so is the self-reproach that the in- 
dulgence or even the mere manifestation of the impulse 
arouses in sensitive adolpscents who have had an exaggerated 
sense of sin imposed on them. From another angle, it is 
tragic to think of millions of human beings denied the full 
beauty and exaltation of love precisely while 'their impulses 
are strongest and their censibilities at their highest pitch. 

No civilization has yet adequately harmonized the dis- 
harmony or provided satisfactory means of resolving the 
conflict. Indeed there can be no solution in the sense that 
there is a single definite solution to a mechanical puzzle or a 
mathematical problem. The problem of love, as of any other 
aspect of life, must be solved ambulando> or rather vivendo, 
in living; and the correctness of the solution is only to be 


measured by the fulfilment achieved, the degree to which 
desiratjle possibilities are realized and # conflicting elements 
and interests harmonized. What is more, we can rarely 
expect to arrive at a satisfactory 'solution at the first shot: 
fulfilment is a process, and wfc have to learn it, to achieve it 
step by step, often making mistakes, often precipitated into 
flew and unforeseen problems or conflicts by the solution of 
previous ones. 

Love between the sexes can provide some of the highest 
fulfilments of life. It also provides an important means for 
the development of personality: through it we learn many 
necessary things about ourselves, about others, about society, 
and about human ideals. We must, I think, aim at a moral 
and religious climate of society in which the adolescent 
experiments of love, instead of being branded as wicked or 
relegated to furtive and illicit gropings, or repressed until 
they coHapse in neurosis or explode in lust, or merely tol- 
erated as an unpleasing necessity, are socially sanctioned and 
religiously sanctified, in the same sort of way as marriage is 
now. Adolescent affairs of the heart could be regarded as 
reverent experiments in love, or as trial marriages, desirable 
preparations for the more enduring adventure of adult 
marriage. Young people would assuredly continue to make 
mistakes, to be selfish or lustful or otherwise immoral ; but 
matters would I api sure be better than they are now, and 
could not well be much worse. 

In considering love we must not leave out hate, for in 
one sense love and hate are the positive and negative aspects 
of the same thing, the primary emotional reaction to awther 
individual. This can either be one of attraction, desire, or 
tenderness, oj; one of repulsion, fear, or hostility. In this 
light it is easy, to understand how love, especially when 
ardent and blind, can so readily turti into equally uncritical 

From the evolutionary angle, however, love and hate 
must be thought of as distinct. They have independent 
origins and are canalized and expressed in different ways. 
As we have seen, love in animals may have a number of 
separate and specific manifestations — parental, sexual, and 
social. The same holds for hate: it may manifest itself in fear, 




in avoidance, or in aggression. We have also seen how love 
and hate may be simultaneously aroused, as in the combina- 
tion of desire and hostility in the sexual life of birds, and 
may then be compounded and the conflict reconciled in a 
new expression, in the form of a ritual display. 

For the most part, however, psychological conflict is 
avoided in animals by means of an automatic nervous medf- 
anism similar to that which prevents conflicting muscles from 
coming into action simultaneously. When, for instance, a 
nervous message is sent to the flexor muscles to contract and 
bend our arm, it is accompanied by a second message in- 
hibiting and relax; ng the extensor mucles which would 
straighten it. The same sort of thing often happens with more 
complicated reflex activities, and, as already mentioned, with 
animal instincts: when the fear instinct is switched into 
action, the hunger or the sex instinct is switched out. 

It may also operate in man's emotional conflicts: one of 
two conflicting patterns of feeling and thought may be either 
voluntarily and temporarily suppressed into the sub-con- 
scious, or wholly and permanently repressed into the un- 
conscious. There, however, as Freud discovered, it can still 
continue its nagging and produce a sense of guilt. Total and 
unremembered repression naturally occurs most often in 
infancy and early life, before experience and reason have had 
time to begin coping with the paralysing conflict between 
contradictory emotions and impulses. 

The primal conflict which besets the human infant is 
between love and hate. He (or she) inevitably loves his 
mother (or mother-surrogate) as the fountainhead of his 
satisfactions, his security, comfort, and peace. But at times 
he is also angry with her, as the power whjch arbitrarily, 
it seems to him, denies him satisfaction ^nd thwarts his 
impulses : and his anger'calls into play what the psychologists 
call aggression — his battery of magic hate-phantasies and 
death-wishes and destructive rage-impulses. 

But his hate soon comes into paralysing conflict with his 
love, and must be repressed. It also gives him a sense of 
guilt or wrongness, even from its lair in the unconscious; 
and this charge of primal guilt continues to exist and is built 
into his developing personality. When an action or impulse 



arouses this sense of guilt, it is automatically felt as wrong. 
Thus the infantile conflict between love and hate generates 
what we may call the individual's proto-ethical mechanism, 
the rudiment around which his fconscience and his truly 
ethical sense of right and wrong are later built, rather as his 
embryonic notochord provided the basis for the future 
development of his backbone. 

Of course, reason and experience, imagination and ideals 
also make their contributions. But the basis of conscience 
and etfiics remains irrational and largely unconscious, as 
shown by the terrifying sense of sin and unworthiness which 
besets those unfortunates on whom a tqo-heavy burden of 
personal guilt has been imposed. 

Consciences, in fact, are not genetically predetermined and 
do not grow automatically like backbones, but need the 
infantile conflict between love and hate for their origination. 
This is demonstrated by recent studies like those of John 
Bowlby and Spitz, on children who have been brought up in 
impersonal institutions or otherwise deprived of the care of 
a mother or pers&nal mother-substitute, during a critical 
period between one and three years old. Many of them 
1 never develop a conscience, and grow up as amoral beings, 
creatures without ethics. 

The mother is thus the central figure in the evolution of 
love. For one thing, maternal love always involves tender- 
ness and devoted care, which sexual love does not. Only 
when the different kinds or components of love become 
blended, as they do most thoroughly in man, though to some 
extent in some birds and mammals, does sexual love^ome 
to involve tenderness as well as desire. As Robert Bridges 
writes in his Testament of Beauty, "In man this blind motherly 
attachment is "the spring of his purest affection, and of all 
compassion." And again, "Through motherhood it [self- 
hood] came in animals to altruistic feeling, and thence-after 
in man rose to spiritual affection." 

But th? mqther also provides the focus for the human 
infant's personal emotions, both of love and hate, and in so 
doing unwittingly lays the foundations of conscience, and 
starts the child on its course towards high morality and 
spiritual ideals. 



I have no space to discuss many other aspects of love — 
the problem of homosexual love, for instance ; or the inter- 
esting differences found by Dr Kinsey between the develop- 
ment of sexual love in mfen and in women ; or the relations 
between married love and conjugal fidelity. 

But I would like to close with an affirmation of the unique 
importance of love in human life — an affirmation whfch 
seems to me essential in a tormented age like ours, where 
violence and disillusion have joined forces with undigested 
technological advance to produce an atmosphere of cynicism 
and crude materialism. * 

Mother-love is indispensable not only for the healthy and 
happy physical growth of young human beings, but for their 
healthy and happy moral and spiritual growth as well. 
Personal love between the sexes is not only indispensable for 
the physical continuance of the race, but for the full develop- 
ment of the human personality. It is part of education: 
through love, the self learns to grow. Love of beauty and of 
all lovely and wonderful things is equally indispensable for 
our mental growih and the realization of our possibilities. It 
brings reverence and a sense of transcendence into sexual and 
personal love, and indeed into all of life. In general, love is a 
positive emotion, an enlargement of life leading on towards 
greater fulfilment and capable of counteracting human hate 
and destructive impulses. 

Let the final word be that of a poet who was also a man of 
science — Robert Bridges. 

HejyVristotle] hath made; Desire to be the prime mover of all. 

I see the emotion of saints, lovers and poets all 

To be the kindling of some personality 

By an eternizing passion; and that God's worshipper 

Looking on any beauty falleth straightway in love; 

And that love is a fire in whose devouring flames 

All earthly ills arc consumed. 



When I saw my title in print I realized its ambiguity. It 
could mean either "The Bearing of Scientific Know- 
ledge on Belief, in a Free Society' ' or it might mean "The 
Bearing of-Scientific Knowledge on Belief in a Free Society". 
However, I am very glad that that ambiguity is there, 
because in the development of my theme I hope that both 
meanings will emerge, and will emerge as significantly 
related to the general theme of this Charter Day, namely, 
"The University's Responsibility in the Tradition of 

First of all, let us remember that freedom is one of those 
general terms which has the rather unfortunate property of 
meaning several flifferent things. First of* all, it can mean 
freedom from as well as freedom of; and that, as you re- 
member, was a great headache to those who had to translate 
President Roosevelt's Four Freedoms into other languages. 
Freedom from is of course exceedingly important. It includes 
freedom from restraint, freedom from tyranny, freedom from 
want, freedom from fear, and from many other undesirable 
things. But freedom of is equally important: freedom of 
opinion, belief, opportunity, assembly, and so forth. 

Then in common parlance freedom is sometimes v&ed in 
another sense as meaning simply the absence of all restraint, 
freedom to acj as you will or to do what you like. That, how- 
ever, is a very inadequate and indeed incorrect definition of 
freedom: it denotes licence and nofliberty, or, in relation to 
the freedom of the will, a completely arbitrary power of 
choice. You will find that all the great thinkers of the world 
agree that aU such definitions are false and misleading. 
Freedom from is never freedom from all restraint, but from 
arbitrary power or from some restraint (which may be an 

1 Charter Day address to the University of dregon, 1954 
H* ' 233 


internal restraint in our own minds or souls, just as m&ch as 
an external restraint by an outer authority) which impedes 
or prevents freedom for the full and rewarding realizations 
and enjoyments of our life-enhancing activities and creative 
faculties, or, in a word, for oijr richer fulfilment. Again, as 
all great philosophers agree, to speak of freedom of choice 
as purely arbitrary is essentially meaningless. Choice cap 
never be wholly arbitrary. The fullest freedom is the expres- 
sion of an inner compulsion of our being, of a choice which 
we have come to feel as inevitably necessary. When the 
poet says "we needs must love the highest when we see it", 
that is a poetical and perhaps rather idealized expression 
of a profound truth. In general, once we manage to "see 
things steadily and see them whole", the choice is made 

After this brief semantic introduction let me come to the 
question of belief. What do we mean by freedom or belief? 
If we Westerners look at the subject historically, we find 
that it first meant freedom to believe in different versions of 
the Christian faith. That had become a political necessity in 
order to put an end to the devastating religious wars and 
persecutions of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 
Then it was extended to mean freedom for other faiths — 
first Judaism and eventually Islam and Buddhism and other 
Asian religions : and pari passu with this, freedom or at any 
rate reasonable absence of persecution* for so-called free- 
thinkers, atheists, and the like. However, in the twentieth 
century a serious diminution of this freedom has occurred. 
First there was the quarrel between Fascism and Catholic- 
ism, Between Mussolini and the Pope, over the education of 
young Italians. Then there was the restriction of freedom in 
Nazi Germany, involving the extraordinary claim that there 
was a distinction between Aryan science, which was good 
and sound, and Jewish science, which was wrong and wicked. 
Meanwhile the same sort of trend, only on a larger scale, 
developed in Communist Russia. From the beginning there 
was no freedom of belief for "deviationists" like Trotsky. 
Then came the vilification and prohibition of all so-called 
"bourgeois" or "capitalist-imperialist" thought and science, 
which culminated in the strange dogma leading to the 



exaltation of "Marxist science" which is inevitably correct 
and good, as against "bourgeois science" which somehow is 
always* wrong. This came to a head iri the amazing pheno- 
menon of Lysenko and the rise ©f Michurinism, accorded 
official status when the so-called truth about genetics was 
laid down by the Central Committee of the Communist 
Varty. The same kind of thought-control was also applied 
in many fields of literature and art. Finally, we are seeing in 
the West, and perhaps particularly in the United States, the 
tendency to impose uniformity by public opinion, to crack 
down on heterodoxy and even difference, to introduce thought- 
control under the pretext of combating Communism. 

This results from the fact that beliefs are again getting 
mixed up with power politics and with questions of national 
security, as they were in the religious wars of the seventeenth 
century. From another angle, the authoritarians have been 
confirmed in their resistance to full freedom of ideas by the 
anthropologists' demonstration of the relativism of beliefs 
and systems of morality. 

. However, though in one sense men in.any truly liberal 
society are free to believe anything, however absurd — that 
the moon is made of green cheese, or astrological nonsense, 
or that measurements of the Great Pyramid can tell us some- 
thing about the future — yet there must be practical limits 
to such freedom. For, after all, beliefs have practical conse- 
quences. An obvidtis example concerns beliefs about health. 
Now that scientific and medical discovery has given us a 
knowledge of the true causation of infectious disease, we can 
no longer afford to tolerate the belief that disease is not due 
to germs, but to divine visitiation, or punishment for sin, or 
some other supernatural or moral cause. More accurately, 
though wc m&y tolerate the beliefs, we cannot tolerate the 
actions that spfing from them, such as permitting people 
suffering from infectious diseases to be free to spread them. 
Similarly, in no society is it possible to allow freedom to the 
beliefs of those whom we class as insane. The beliefs of the 
insane en3anger themselves and often threaten others. This 
is especially true if they indulge in the belief that they are 
reincarnations of Napoleon, or have a divine mission to 
scourge the universe, but is still true if they are too different 

2 35 


from the other human beings in their community to f take 
sufficient account of the facts of reality or to draw suffi- 
ciently rational conclusions from the facts. When basically 
insane men, like Hitler, attain political and military power, 
we have to destroy them or thpir power. 

We men are not truly free to believe nonsense, even when 
nonsensical beliefs involve no immediate or obvious praor 
tical consequences. A belief, after all, though in one sense it 
is a crystallization or fusion of emotions and feelings and 
knowledge into a system of ideas, is always in some degree 
operative or effective; it always has a dynamic aspect, always 
tends to issue in action of some sort. 

Beliefs may have immediate practical effects on action. 
For instance, the belief of the early Mohammedans that they 
would go straight to Paradise if they died in battle for the 
Islamic faith had an enormous effect on human history. 
Again, the Nazis' belief in Aryan superiority and, Jewish 
inferiority led to a very practical and quite appalling effect, 
namely gas chambers for over a million Jews. 

A belief also may have less immediate, but in the long run 
equally serious, effects : because a belief often involves a set 
of the mind and the entire personality, and determines men's 
general attitude or approach to life. Beliefs always have a 
potential operative effect on behaviour. Thus, the belief 
which I have cited, that pestilence and plague are a divine 
visitation and may be mitigated by prayer, stands in the way 
of public health and discourages medical research and prac- 
tice. Too strong a belief in salvation in the next world has 
often^led to a despisipg of this world — to exaggerated 
asceticism, to tolerance of dirt and disease, to campaigns 
against beauty and enjoyment, and in general to neglect of 
the duty of building the kingdom" of heaveh upon earth. 
Again, a belief in miracles discourages a beKef in the order 
of nature and so in science and the value of scientific re- 
search and the scientific spirit. A belief in predestined fate, 
such as we find in superstitions like astrology or palmistry, 
discourages the belief in free will and the power of creative 
activity. And finally, a belief in revelation or dogmatic auth- 
ority, whether religious or political, encourages authori- 
tarianism and intolerance and is therefore opposed to 



democracy, to science's progressive discovery of truth, and 
to freedom of opinion. 

Yet, as I indicated earlier, the fullest freedom is always in 
a very real sense the fullest neceSsity, in matters of art and 
morals as well as in matters of inquiry and belief. In matters 
of morals, we know that we must act in a certain way and 
that, if we do not, we are not fully moral, or are even immoral 
or sinful. In the arts the great artist or writer is one who 
knows and feels the necessity of his vision, and then knows 
or learns how to employ the technical means necessary to 
express it satisfactorily. He feels the necessity of full and true 
expression and only so becomes truly and creatively free. 

In science we are free to inquire into anything of relevance 
to scientific inquiry; but we are not free to discover anything 
except some fragment of the truth or some approximation to 
it. We scientists may make mistakes in interpretation; we 
may make errors of omission or commission ; but in the long 
run the cumulative process of scientific discovery, the free 
creation of new knowledge and new organizations of know- 
ledge, is subject fo the necessity of truth , # truth to external 
fact and truth of internal coherence. 

Beliefs are ultimately subject to necessity; in the long run 
man cannot believe what is false. As the Romans said, 
"magna est Veritas et praevalebit". It has been cynically 
observed that truth sometimes takes a very long time pre- 
vailing; but the statement is essentially true — truth will 
eventually prevail. Its lag in prevailing is due to obstruction 
by vested interests, like the Roman Catholic Church's re- 
sistance to the ideas of Copernicus and Galileo <w the 
Fundamentalists' resistance to the idea of evolution. But 
even then it i§ partly due to psychological resistances — what 
one of our leading psycho-analysts, Dr Ernest Jones, de- 
scribes as "man's blind resistance to the forces making for 
higher and fuller consciousness". These resistances include 
sheer intellectual laziness, and the fear or dislike of new facts 
and ideas as Against the comfortable assurance of the old. 
They also include inner resistances to changing our primitive 
methods of resolving conflict. For instance, a frequent in- 
fantile method of resolving our primal conflicts is to project 
our own inner aggression on to some external scapegoat or 




enemy, as was dramatically and horrifyingly illustrated by 
the history of Nazi Germany, and is now being exemplified 
by the mutual projection of scapegoatery from the United 
States to Communist Riftsia and vice versa. Again, men 
and women may cling to infantile modes of thought — to the 
idea of magic, to the craving for the support of external and 
absolute authority, to the desire for punishing others as an 
outlet for their own sense of guilt or insufficiency, for 
instance the dislike and envy by the common man for the 
intellectual, which is such a common and distressing feature 
of modern democratic societies. * 

In psycho-analytic jargon, beliefs are introjections of 
external fact. Beliefs incorporate the facts and forces of 
human nature and social nature, and result in the orientation 
of man, both the individual personality and the common 
consciousness of society, in a more or less significant relation 
to the facts of nature; beliefs are thus essentially dynamic, 
and give an orientation to potential action and a directional 
set to the personality. They are part of the directive mech- 
anism of the hun&n microcosm; thus it is Important, and in 
the long run essential, that their direction shall be right — in 
other words, that our beliefs shall be correctly oriented 
relatively to the directional movement of the macrocosm, the 
single universal process -of transformation. There is thus a 
constant and necessary interaction between our beliefs and 
the facts of the universe, or rather between our beliefs and 
our knowledge of the facts. A classical example is the change 
in our beliefs about the position of the earth and of man in 
the universe, in relation to our increasing knowledge of the 
facts of astronomy since the sixteenth century; another is 
the change in our beliefs about the origin of man in relation 
to our increasing knowledge of the tacts of biology. 

Furthermore, there it a reciprocal reaction; our beliefs 
may actively influence the facts of our social life and evolu- 
tion. Thus a belief in divine mission or special status of a 
nation or group may have political or military results; for 
instance, in Islam, in Nazi Germany, in the behaviour of the 
Spaniards to the Indians of the New World, or finally, and 
of most immediate relevance, in the belief of Communism 
that the end which it envisages justifies any means. 



Further, new knowledge may even affect our beliefs about 
beliefs themselves. For instance, the knowledge which we 
have gained in the last fifty years froni biology and anthro- 
pology, from history and prehistory, that man alone is 
capable of taking the evolutionary process to greater heights ; 
that he can only do so by means of advance in his cultural 
•evolution, and that beliefs are important organs of cultural 
evolution, is leading to a quite new belief about our beliefs. 

Let me amplify this point, about beliefs necessitated by 
new khowledge. We can no longer believe that man was 
created in * his present form at some comparatively recent 
date; for we now know that he has a fantastically long and 
complicated evolution behind him. We believe that he evolved 
from some sub-microscopic origin about two thousand million 
years ago, up through a single-celled form, a primitive 
multicellular form, and on through more complex types, 
through fishlike, amphibian, reptilian, mammalian, apelike 
creatures, eventually emerging in human form. Second, we 
now believe that during that vast period evolution was not 
merely change, but also involved a type of transformation 
that we must call progress or advance — advance in complexity 
and level of organization, as revealed in increasing speed, size, 
power, efficiency, in increasing capacity for self-regulation 
and inner physiological harmony, and, most significant of 
all, in increasing level and organization of awareness, as 
revealed in increase of sensory capacity, of complexity of 
behaviour, of capacity for learning, remembering, and pro- 
fiting by experience. Third, what has been emerging more 
and more clearly in recent years is the belief that major 
biological evolution seems to have come to an end, that life 
has by now exhausted its material possibilities, and that its 
purely physiological capacities have reached their limit. 
Man has attained his new dominant position in evolution 
by exploiting life's mental capacities. 

Our ancestors believed that mankind was very old. They 
referred jto tjie period of classical Greece and Rome as 
antiquity, as if a mere two thousand years was a very long 
time, whereas in the perspective of biological time it is 
negligible. We now know that, biologically speaking, man 
is exceedingly young. He has only become* a fully dominant 

239 ' 


type since he invented urban civilization some five thousand 
years ago. Sir James Jeans in one of his books gives a very 
illuminating comparison. If we take the height of Cleo- 
patra's Needle as representing the length of time that 
elapsed from the first origin pf life on this planet to the 
first beginnings of civilization, and then want to include the 
amount of time since the origins of civilization till the present 
day, all that would be needed would be to put a postage stamp 
on its top. Frankly, when I read that I didn't feel like believing 
it ; it seemed impossible. I figured it out for myself witK pencil 
and paper, and after doing the sum about five times I con- 
cluded that Sir James Jeans was perfectly correct. If I 
recollect rightly, I think that the postage stamp would have 
to be slightly thicker than ordinary, but you wouldn't have 
to add a second postage stamp. 

To-day we can project our time-scale into the future. The 
geologists and geophysicists and astronomers now believe 
that the future time available to man before life ceases to be 
possible on our planet is at least as great as that which has 
elapsed since the original life until now-*— at least another 
two thousand million years, another Cleopatra's Needle 
of time compared to the postage stamp from the pyramid to 
the present. Thus we can be assured of a reasonably long 
and, we may hope, a reasonably fruitful future for mankind. 

Another fact which must inevitably colour our beliefs is 
the fact that knowledge has been decisive in promoting 
human evolution. Both man's new dominant position in the 
world of life and his subsequent advance in culture and 
civilization only became possible through the increase and 
improvement of his awareness, in the broad sense of that 
word — his factual knowledge of the external and the internal 
world, his organization of that knowledge, his understand- 
ing, his will and purpose, his feelings and the modes of their 
expression. His advances became possible through the dis- 
covery of more facts, a better interpretation of facts, the 
formulation of better ideas, a better resolution of internal 
conflicts — and, finally, more adequate beliefs. 

As an extension of this, we are driven to a belief in science, 
or rather in the scientific method. History demonstrates that 
the best method' for securing advance and improvement in 



awareness, and so for securing human progress in general, 
is the scientific method — in other words, going to the facts, 
questioning them, framing hypotheses about them, testing 
the hypotheses against the facts. It is through this dialectic 
exchange between brute faot and human reason that we 
discover new facts and new regularities which lead on in 
'their turn to new hypotheses and new discoveries, and to a 
gradually increasing body of ever more firmly established 
truth. Anti-rationalists sometimes decry science for con- 
stantly* changing its views — Einstein as against Newton, 
Freud as against the classical psychologists, atomic physics 
as against nineteenth-century atomic theory, pre-Mendelian 
heredity versus modern heredity, etc. However, though 
interpretation may change, the great body of established 
fact and principle remains; for instance, Newtonian mech- 
anics is still perfectly adequate for immediate practical 
purposes in spite of the radical changes in interpretation we 
owe to Einstein. 

The scientific method can be utilized in any subject, not 
only in natural 'sciences like physics of biology but in 
anthropology, psychology, social science, archaeology, or 
history. The scientific method is the best and most efficient 
method of utilizing man's curiosity and interest, his desire 
for comprehension and explanation and logical coherence. 
Mere idle curiositv will not produce a satisfactory body of 
organized knowledge. On the other hand, too much con- 
centration on logical coherence, with insufficient observation 
and inadequate testing of the facts, will produce purely 
speculative or metaphysical word-spinning in plate of 
scientifically and practically profitable theories. 

Thus we come to a belief in man's mind — Pascal's "think- 
ing reed". Man is the agent or instrument of further evolu- 
tion, whether he likes it or not; but* he can best perform his 
cosmic function if he becomes a conscious instrument, a 
conscious agent of fulfilment, with the deliberate aim of 
realizing further possibilities of the evolutionary process. 

And that brings me to what I think is destined to prove 
the greatest change in our beliefs. Lord Bryce was struck by 
America's belief in the future. This foreshadows an essential 
characteristic of the new age for which we are heading; we 



are becoming increasingly interested in the possible future 
as against the actual past, in possibilities rather than in 
origins, in descendants rather than in ancestors. 

When I say possibilities, I mean possibilities, not im- 
possibilities; many people advance what they claim are 
possibilities, but are really wish-fulfilments or unbridled 
speculations. We need a science of possibilities. Such a* 
science will take account of the limitations of reality as well 
as of its immense potentialities. As an immediate step, we 
need a new science directed to the investigation of unfealized 
human possibilities. Furthermore, that must eventually be 
matched with a religion based on the idea of fulfilment of 
possibilities. Christianity took the first great step towards 
this in proclaiming that all men have the possibility of 
salvation. Our modern formulation would be that all men 
have the possibility of greater fulfilment. 

Let me now return to the problem of freedom ©f belief. 
When we survey the cultural history of mankind, we find 
that the largest advances, whether in science, in the arts, in 
writing, in architecture, in religious and ihoral insight, or in 
what Walt Whitman called the progress of souls — the largest 
advances have taken place when there have been the greatest 
outbursts of free, creative activity of the human mind and 
spirit, of human personalities free from artificial restraints 
and subject only to the necessities imposed by their own 
nature and the nature of things. 

Another clear lesson of history is that beliefs cannot be 
imposed by force. The attempt to do so damages the whole 
structure of society, since society has a psychological as well 
as a material basis. We have two examples from our own 
times. It has become clear that the Nazis^ belief in the 
superiority of so-called "Aryan" science over "Jewish" or 
"non-Aryan" science lfed to a degeneration of science in 
Nazi Germany, because so many of their leading thinkers 
and scientists were not "Aryans" and were either suppressed 
or fled into exile. And I can testify from my, personal, pro- 
fessional experience that the enforced rise of Michurinism 
and Lysenko in the U.S.S.R. in about 1935 brought about a 
degeneration of. Soviet biology, especially in the field of 



Again, authority cannot just forbid beliefs, though it can 
forbid or restrain action flowing from false beliefs, as in 
regard to public health or in regard to subversive actions 
(as opposed to belief in Communism). On the other hand, it 
'is possible to encourage or promote right beliefs. This cannot 
be done by force, or by mere moralizing, or by the setting 
ttp of orthodoxies, still less by encouraging uniformity and 
discouraging originality. It must be done with the aid of 
another belief — the belief in human possibilities, in the value 
of free* creative activity, whether intellectual, scientific, 
artistic, practical, or moral, or concerned with the develop- 
ment of one's own personality. We must believe in this, 
and in the eventual Tightness of its results; that is the 
long-term lesson of history. 

Take an example from education. We are beginning* at 
long last to realize that the best results are obtained not by 
just telling boys and girls what they ought to know, not by 
making them learn it by heart unintelligently, still less by 
trying to beat it into them a posteriori as was the practice all 
through the Middle Ages; but by making them interested, 
showing them things, stimulating their curiosity and their 
natural desire to know and understand, their desire to find 
and to create significance. 

Again, in regard to society as a whole, the lesson is that we 
must not merely be tolerant of differences, but should mani- 
fest an active encouragement of creative diversity. 

Finally, we have to believe in keeping our own lives open, 
"open to novelty and change", as Charles Morris says, "and 
not close them down against progress". Man is unique & an 
organism in that his individual development, because it is 
more than merely physiological, so largely mental and 
aesthetic and spiritual, can continue until death. Thus we 
should aim throughout life at the realization of fuller possi- 
bilities, including possibilities of larger understanding and 
more adequate and more comprehensive beliefs. If I recollect 
right, it wjts Edmund Burke who said, "For the triumph of 
evil it is only necessary that good men shall do nothing." 
This applies to intellectual evil just as much as to moral evil. 
For the triumph of falsehood and ignorance^it is only neces- 
sary that men shall do nothing with their intelligence. And 

. 2 43 


the converse is also true, that for the triumph of right, 
including intellectual right, it is necessary that we should 
do something with our intelligence. 

In conclusion I would say that the most important belief 
now emerging from our new knowledge is the belief in 
human possibilities, including the belief that they can be 
realized to a far larger extent than now, but only by pro- 
viding opportunity and example, coupled with intellectual 
and moral effort. To realize this fact, to grasp this belief, and 
to put it into practice seems to me to be the chief responsi- 
bility of a university in the tradition of a free society. 




Our Western world, in this year 1 951, is psychologically 
in a bad way. Our thinking is chaotic, our nerves are 
jumpy, we are a prey to pessimism and depression, we seem 
frightened of our human selves. Our half of the world lacks 
a common faith; the other half has had imposed upon it a 
dogmatic filth which can never satisfy free men. We in the 
West have lost our sense of continuity, our long-term hope, 
and seem only able to concentrate on prospects of immediate 
disaster or immediate methods of escaping from it. 

Never was there greater need for a large perspective, in 
which we might discern the outlines of a general and con- 
tinuing belief beyond the disturbance and chaos of the 
present. Yet, paradoxically enough, never was there a 
greater possibility t of attaining so large a perspective, and 
attaining so firm and enduring a belief. 

Every society, in every age, needs some system of beliefs, 
including a basic attitude to life, an organized set of ideas 
round which emotion and purpose may gather, and a con- 
ception of human destiny. It needs a philosophy and a faith 
to achieve a guidg to orderly living — in other words a 

Any such system of beliefs must of necessity contain both 
short-term and long-term elements. It must be relevant to 
the immediate business of living here and now, to the devel- 
opment of existirjg individual lives, to the social and political 
problems of the time; but it must also be capable of reaching 
out beyond the. particular to the general, beyond the im- 
mediate to the enduring, so as to put men in touch with what 
is universal in reality, or at least with what they feel as being 
universal. And of course (though the fact is not always 
recognized) our beliefs are in the long run based upon, or at 
least correlated with, our knowledge and the organization 
of our knowledge. 

1 The third William Alanson White Memorial Lecture, 195 1 



In many belief-systems there is often a break between the 
elements concerned with the present and the particular, and 
those concerned with the permanent and the universal. This 
is especially marked at the present day. Thus,, for many 
people, beliefs based on science have only immediate relev- 
ance, while long-term relevance is reserved for beliefs rooted 
in idealist philosophy or traditional religion. , . 

However, the present epoch is the first in which our 
knowledge, and the beliefs which it could support, is ade- 
quate to do justice to both these aspects of our life— our 
immediate business of living and acting, and qur relations 
with the long-term and the universal. For the first time in 
history there is available a general picture of mankind, of 
the universe in which mankind exists, and of the relations 
between them. The human species can see itself as a process 
in time, a small but decisive element in the universal process 
of evolution. An earlier generation could speak of man's 
place in nature: this static formulation is now outdated; 
to-day we must speak rather of man's destiny in the world- 

Elsewhere I have attempted to analyse the general process 
of evolution more fully, and to point out some of its implica- 
tions. Here I must confine myself to the brief mention of a 
few essential points. 

Evolution in the comprehensive sense is a unique, one- 
way, irreversible process in time, generating novelty and 
variety. During the process, an immense increase in 
organization has been produced, but only in a few sectors 
in which conditions have been favourable. 

In the universe at large, evolution has remained on the 
inorganic level ; its rate has been exceedingly slow, and the 
degree of organization it has produced has usually not 
exceeded the atomic, though here and there is has reached 
a simple molecular level. 

On our earth (and possibly on a few other planets of other 
stars), conditions permitted the formation of complex organic 
molecules capable of self-reproduction and therefore what 
we call alive. With this, a new mechanism of change auto- 
matically became available, in the shape of natural selection, 
and the biological phase of evolution was thereby initiated. 



The process of evolutionary transformation was much 
accelerated, and incredibly complex organizations were pro- 
duced, from cells with their thousands df different genes and 
other biochemical parts, up to avjan and mammalian indi- 
viduals with their thousands gf millions of such cells, and 
to communities like beehives and termitaries, with their 
hundreds of thousands of such individuals, existing in a 
highly complex social pattern. As for variety, it will suffice 
to recall that there exist some three-quarters of a million 
separata species of insects alone, and probably one and a half 
million species of living organisms in all. But the most 
remarkable feature of biological evolution was the emergence 
of mind — the increasing importance of the capacities of 
living matter for knowing, feeling, and willing. 

Finally, after about two billion years, biological improve- 
ment reached its limit, except along this one direction— of 
improve^ organization of mental capacities. This led to a 
radically new phase of evolution, the human or psycho-social 

Pascal gave expression to the unique value of mind in the 
pattern of things when he wrote, "All bodies, the firmament, 
the stars, the earth and its kingdoms, are not equal to the 
lowest minds. For mind knows all these and itself; and these 
bodies, nothing." But we have had to wait over two hundred 
years for the further illumination provided by evolutionary 
biology that the miftdless universe has generated mind, and, 
through the mental capacities of man, can now begin to 
contemplate and even to comprehend itself. 

It is no coincidence that within a decade of Darwin's 
Origin of Species Walt Whitman wrote "Passage to lriTdia" 
with its unitary vision of the cosmos: 

O, vast Rondure, swimming in space, • 
Cover'd all over with visible power and beauty, 
Alternate light and day and the teeming spiritual darkness, 
Unspeakable high processions of sun and moon, and countless 
stars, above, 

Below, the manifold grass and waters, animals, mountains, trees, 
With inscrutable purpose, some hidden, prophetic intention, 
Now first it seems my thought begins to span tlfce. 



Through the mental capacities of man, organizations of 
a new quality and degree or complexity arise in the universe. 
Human mind is capable of organizational construction and 
synthesis on an unexampJed scale, and can impose unity on 
a virtually unlimited variety.. In one act of consciousness, a 
man can hold together elements of the present and past, 
projections into the future, particular experiences and 
general concepts, emotions and intellectual ideas, facts and 
fancies, fears and hopes. And a single human mind in the 
course of its development comprises an unlimited 'number 
of such complex organizations of thought. 

On this new level, the rate of evolution again becomes 
much more rapid, and the process becomes concerned mainly 
with transformations of ideas, cultures, and societies. It leads 
to' new heights of complexity and variety of organization, 
not merely in such distinctively human products as machines 
and buildings and social systems, but in individual organ- 
isms. During man's growth, individuality becomes person- 

Here I would like to stress the importance of the organiza- 
tion of our knowledge, as opposed to mere increase in its 
amount. Experience is organized anew in each one of us. 
So far as organization of experience is concerned, the infant 
starts with a tabula rasa — but a tabula rasa endowed with 
predispositions, potentialities of building up the raw materials 
of experience into organized systems. "The experience of 
those who recover their sight after having been blind from 
infancy, together with the work of physiologists and psycho- 
logists on illusions an,d perceptual assumptions (like that of 
Ames and Cantril with distorted rooms), shows that even 
our perceptions, far from being the automatic and immediate 
product of the impact of the world of sense on our brains, 
are elaborate though unconscious creations, built up and 
organized by a selective synthesis of sense-data: and the 
same is true of all but our most elementary emotional states. 

We first organize our experience into what we call 
"objects" and "events"; the words of our languages, our 
concepts, and abstractions are constructions for organizing 
the chaos of experience into order; so are scientific laws, 
works of art, philosophies, and systems of religion. 



The development of knowledge is the most important 
aspect of evolution on the human level. Not only does the 
amount of available knowledge increase, but the methods of 
obtaining it and of organizing it for use are improved. Even 
• in the earliest civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia there 
was no organized philosophy, as has been emphasized by 
Henri Frankfort and his collaborators in their book Before 
Philosophy \ the idea of a single universal god, one of the 
most powerful organizing concepts of all time, did not 
emerge % until much later; and modern science, the most 
efficient method to date of obtaining and organizing know- 
ledge, is a product merely of the last three centuries. 

Man is a microcosm, though in a sense different from that 
of earlier ages. Medieval thinkers essayed to find corre- 
spondences between the structure and working of man and 
of the rest" of the universe, or macrocosm; to-day we concern 
ourselves with the correspondences which man establishes 
between the universe and his thoughts about it, until the 
macrocosm acquires a new unity and significance in the 
microcosm organised by human mind. • 

Man constructs within himself some sort of picture of the 
'universe; a miniature model housed in what Blake called 
the crystal cabinet of his mind. And this present century is 
the first period in which that picture could be even approxi- 
mately accurate, or approximately complete in its extent. 
Furthermore, man now sees himself in a new light, as solely 
responsible for continuing evolutionary advance: for this 
planet at least, he is further evolution. His microcosm thus 
comprises not only a picture but a purpose. .» 

To-day the different elements and parts of the universe, 
however distinct *or separate, however distant in space or 
remote in time", may be Srought together in a single pattern 
within the unity of human knowledge, and its multifarious 
and often conflicting processes may be envisaged in relation 
to a single line of action within the unity of human purpose. 

For her$, as jlways, knowledge is related to action. It was 
only through centuries of scientific labour that man could 
come to know that the entire universe is a process of evolu- 
tion and only in virtue of that new knowledge can he now 
begin to frame a purpose and a course of action consonant 

. 249 



with the nature of that universal process. The dispersed 
and material macrocosm is concentrated and unified in the 
mental microcosm. 

From a somewhat diffef ent angle, the process of evolution 
in all its phases can be envicaged as a trend towards the 
actualization of potentiality, the realization or fulfilment of 
inherent possibilities. However, this trend is constantly coif* 
fronted by obstacles to its advance. Each situation imposes 
certain limitations on the possibilities to be realized, or dis- 
torts their form : the degree of realization attained* is con- 
ditioned by the opportunities of time and space.* Thus, over 
the vast majority of the universe, conditions are such as to 
prevent the attainment of any level of organization above the 
atomic, and higher potentialities, such as those of life or 
mind, are quite ruled out. 

Again, it took over a thousand million years of biological 
evolution to overcome the limitations set to the self-repro- 
duction of mind and so to reveal the potentialities of life for 
accumulating organized experience. And it took all of human 
history until the Seventeenth century to overcome the limita- 
tions set by primitive social structure on the organization of 
thought and to develop the scientific method as a tool for 
increasing knowledge. 

L. L. Whyte has put the matter in a nutshell by defining 
the essential property of all natural processes as the tendency 
of systems, when conditions permit, to 'develop their char- 
acteristic forms without arrest or distortion. And various 
modern psychiatrists, such as Erich Fromm, concentrating 
on «the particular process of human development, have 
pointed out that true freedom consists in the overcoming of 
the limitations and distortions imposed by external condi- 
tions and internal conflict on the fulfilment of our inherent 
potentialities. In the free employment and enjoyment of our 
capacities, we attain the particular fruition which is the 
"characteristic form" of the system we call human per- 

The first and obvious implication of this new picture of 
human destiny is that man must try to understand more about 
the process of eyolution, about himself as an essential opera- 
tive part of it, and about the relations between himself and 



the whole. He must accept what is given in the universe. 

If we^are truly to accept the universe, we must not deny 
the reality or validity or significance of any elements in it. 
The Marxists, and the BehavioristS try to deny the validity 
of the mental and spiritual elements in the universe; con- 
versely, some mystics and idealists and theologians try to 
dfcny the importance of the material ones. 

We must accept reality as unitary, and so must reject all 
dualistic ways of thinking. We must accept the fact that it is 
a process, and so must reject all static conceptions. The 
process is always relative, so we must reject all absolutes. 
And it tends to a fuller realization of inherent potentiality, 
so we must study what facilitates fulfilment and what 
hinders it. 

For this we must develop new methods of thinking. We 
must learn how to think in terms of organization and 
pattern, and in those of trend and process — what one might 
call pattern-process thought. We must learn to think in 
terms or organ izations-as-wholes, as well as in terms of 
elements-by-analysis. We have to adjust ourthinking to deal 
with one-way directional processes as well as with static 
situations or reversible systems. 

There are four possible main ways of thinking about the 
universe. We may think in dualistic and at the same time 
in static terms. This has been the characteristic mode of 
European thought, of Plato and Paul, of Dante and Aquinas, 
of Descartes and Newton. We may think dualistically, but at 
the same time in terms of process and movement. This 
combination characterizes Hegel, and also the Marxist 
system. We may have a unitary system, which however is 
static. This is exemplified by the thought of Buddhism, and 
of a few Western philosophers, such as Spinoza. Or we may 
think in unitary terms, and at the %ame time in those of 
movement, trend, and process. Such a system seems cer- 
tainly to be the one which now needs to be developed. 

Of course, yQu can subdivide these main brands or modes 
of thinking according to their dominant components at any 
one time. Thus absolutist philosophies constitute one branch 
of static thinking, based on absolutes as Iiipiting values of 
static concepts. Again, during the last hundred years, 



scientific thought has been dominated by the concept of 
quantity, and this has spread into many other fields of 
thought, such as economics. 

Looked at from the artgle of history, each type of organ- 
ization of thought can be regarded as a broad adaptation to 
the situation and the conditions of the times. Thus the 
emergence of the dualist idea was probably necessary vo 
make man conscious of himself and his possibilities as an 
independent agent, who could hope to understand and deal 
with the natural forces by which he was beset. The absolutist 
approach was an adaptation to provide man with some basis 
of permanence from which he could operate in the flux of 
events, before its apparent chaos could be more properly 
comprehended as a definable continuing process. And the 
quantitative mode of thought was an adaptation permitting 
the fuller control of nature and the rise of precision tech- 
nology. Finally, it seems that the unitary-process type is 
that which is appropriate to our time to-day, to permit the 
fuller control of the processes of human development, alike 
of individuals ahd of societies and cultures. 

An apparently progressive advance may turn out ulti- 
mately to be a limitation. For instance, the insects success- 
fully conquered the land by developing a method for 
breathing with the aid of fine air-tubes penetrating every 
tissue of the body. This constitutes an admirable mechanism 
so long as the creature remains small, tut makes large size 
impossible. An insect as big as a rat just wouldn't work 
properly: actually no insect is bigger than a mouse. This 
limitation of total size naturally sets a limit to the size of the 
brain, and so to the number of cells in the brain, which in 
turn sets a low limit to the degree of intelligence and 
the flexibility of behaviour. That is why insects are never 
very intelligent, but have to depend mainly on the often 
marvellous but always rigid and limited behaviour-mechan- 
isms we call instincts. This limitation of insect size is very 
lucky for us, because without it, man assuredly qould never 
have evolved. 

However, there are certain types of advance, namely 
advances in all-round organization, which do not limit future 
possibilities but leave the way open for further advances and 

252 m 


therefore can be called progressive. Biological progress in 
this sense takes place in a series of separate steps, each of 
them talcing a finite time for its achievement, and each 
making some new and different stop possible. To take a few 
•obvious examples, one of the tarliest steps in progress was 
the differentiation of life into plants and animals. Another 
one was the attainment by life of the cellular level of organ- 
ization, which in turn provided the basis for the further step 
constituted by the organization of separate cells into multi- 
cellular arganisms. And a very decisive step, but one taken 
only in a few lines, was the evolution of a central nervous 
system and brain, together with organs of special sense like 
eyes. Again, the step to accurate regulation of internal 
temperature provided the foundation for a new possibility — 
the possibility of a unified continuity of mental life. 

With the taking of this next step of progress, to the 
human type of brain and mind, we pass into the third main 
phase of evolution; and here too this same step-by-step 
process of advance occurs. As an obvious example, before 
a certain period in 'human history, man had not learned to 
domesticate animals and plants. In the brief space of a few 
•millennia before the beginning of urban civilization, he 
achieved this step. He has made a few later refinements, but 
in all major essentials the process was over before the dawn 
of history; since then no important species has been added to 
the list of man's dotnesticated animals or cultivated plants. 

Biological evolution leads to the transformation of actual 
organisms, via the struggle for existence and natural selection. 
Human evolution leads to the transformation of cultiyes 
(including of course the types of personality which are per- 
mitted or fostered by particular cultures) via cultural and 
mental selection. 

Thus in man the transaction of theTeal business of evolu- 
tion has been shifted from the domain of matter to that of 
thought. This gives a new dimension and a new flexibility 
to evolution and makes possible much quicker and fuller 
adaptation/ However, the adaptation is not primarily to the 
environment in the limited static sense of the external 
physical environment alone, nor even to that together with 
the social environment, as some sociologists* would like us 

. 253 


to believe, but to the business of transformation and realiza- 
tion of inherent potentiality: that is to say, adaptation to the 
process of evolution itself. Furthermore, since thought is 
potential action, its organization must be adapted to the 
particular problems of each* cultural stage or situation in 
human transformation, though of course always also to the 
longer-term aspects of the process, as in giving hopeful 
continuity and an over-all relation of man to his destiny. 

The most decisive of the steps in human advance are those 
introducing new modes of organizing thought, new ordering 
concepts, new attitudes, which help to determine the set of 
conduct and the pattern of culture. 

Thus magic was once the chief dominant concept. Mil- 
lennia later, that was transcended — not wholly superseded, 
but transcended as a dominant concept — by that of a single 
universal god. 

The ideas of salvation and of universality crystallized the 
chaos of beliefs and the welter of misery in the late Roman 
Empire into a wholly new transformation, leading to a new 
dominant idea-cystem, in the shape of Christianity. The 
organization of thought about social order, expressed in 
codes of law applicable to all alike within the community,* 
beginning with Hammurabi in ancient Babylon and culmin- 
ating in the Roman Empire, served as a foundation for all 
later advance in civilization. Another but much later step 
was the organization of thought in termS of scientific method 
and scientific knowledge. 

During this last process, one development is particularly 
illuminating. The eighteenth century was characterized by a 
remarkable series of technical advances: coal mining, cast 
iron, the steam-engine, the spinning-jenny, the power-loom, 
improved communications like danals and better roads, 
new methods of agriculture, the factory system, and so 
forth. It is tempting to regard these as the beginnings of 
applied science. But when one considers the people respon- 
sible for these transformations, men like Watt, Arkwright, 
Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Coke of Norfolk, the 
Duke of Bridgewater, Boulton, Count Rumford, or McAdam, 
it becomes clear that the movement was not in any real sense 
applied sciencfe, but what may be called applied scientific 



attitude. Science had not yet developed to the pitch at which 
its results could be directly applied to practical problems, 
as they* can now; anci the men responsible for the techno- 
logical advances were not scientists or the products of 
• scientific training, but practical men of business, or aristo- 
crats, or public men interested in affairs. They were applying 
ttot the findings of science, but the outlook of science. 
The primary idea of science that Bacon and the founders of 
the Royal Society put forward and stuck to in spite of ridi- 
cule — the idea that by investigating natural phenomena, 
however apparently insignificant, men could attain new 
realms of knowledge and acquire new possibilities of control 
over nature — together with the general idea resulting from 
Newton's great work — the conception of the physical uni- 
verse as a machine — those ideas so dominated the general 
attitude and so transformed the intellectual climate that it 
was natural for people to think technologically, in terms of 
inventing new techniques for the better handling of old 
problems, and of a general extension of man's control over 
nature. • • 

This shows how the organization of knowledge round a 
broad general idea can, through constructive imagination 
and correct insight, come to have force and effect long before 
the idea has been worked out in detail. The idea of science 
became practically effective well before the time when science 
itself could be so. Key concepts like this stand at the top of 
the hierarchy of the organization of thought ; they impose a 
pattern on it and pull other less dominant ideas into place, 
modifying them in relation to the whole pattern. 

As an example of the organizing and transforming pro- 
perties of dominant ideas, we see that the broad pattern of 
thinking derived from the developing humanist, protestant, 
and scientific traditions, gave a new»twist to the idea of the 
intrinsic value of the human individual, earlier established 
by Christianity, and transformed it so as to lead to the 
nineteenth-century ideas of universal political democracy 
and indiviHuarenterprise. 

Many interesting parallels could be drawn between the 
evolution of organisms and the evolution of organizations of 
thought. Thus in the evolution of thought, rfew key concepts 



may develop and|become dominant either by transcending 
the previous dominant concepts, in the process assimilating 
what of the old is relevant to the new; or by the extinction of 
the old. This latter process may be due to the old concepts 

to a very inferior position, since they are no longer workable 
in the new situation; or the new may have to compete with 
the old, eventually ousting it. Thus monotheism transcended 
polytheism, but took from it the idea of personal divinities 
behind phenomena; the idea of sympathetic magic- has for 
all practical purposes ceased to count in Western civiliza- 
tion, leaving the field open for the rise of unitary thought; 
Christianity fought and extinguished polytheism and em- 
peror-worship within the Roman Empire. 

'A detailed historical study of the evolution and trans- 
formation of human thought would also bring out many 
interesting points. For instance, the fact that individual 
thinkers may be in advance of history, and therefore unable 
to translate their thought, albeit true in essence, into formu- 
lations appropriate to the times and capable of exerting 
practical effects on the process of human transformation. 
Thus Goethe's unitary approach was too far in advance of 
the analytic temper of his age to have much effect on science 
or philosophy; Mendel's work had to wait for thirty years 
before it found its, place in the process of science; Roger 
Bacon was a premature scientist, and the' Emperor Frederic 
II a premature humanist (phrases which recall that shocking 
distortion of the idea of being before one's time — the smear 
use of the phrase "premature anti-Fascist"). 

But I must pass on to my main topic. How are we to take 
the new bold step which clearly seems nefcessary, of trans- 
forming our system of thought in k way appropriate to the 
problems of to-day? How best to act as midwife to deliver 
the world of a new ideology, or, if we wish to avoid that 
rather unpleasant word, a new system of ideas appropriate 
to man's new situation? 

What are the characteristics of this new situation which 
would seem especially relevant to the task of adaptively 
transforming the organization of our thought? First of all, 
the world of mkn is beginning to emerge as unavoidably 

simply disaj 

falling from a dominant 



destined to be one: in many particular aspects it has already 
acquired a de facto unity. Yet in spite of this, it is also 
abundantly split, especially in its thinking. 

There a»e two main kinds of splits in thought. There is the 
split between the thought of West and East (or non-West), 
and there are the splits within the thought both of the West 
and of the non-West. 

The dominant idea-system of the non-West, the system of 
Marxism and dialectical materialism, began by taking over 
the emesging idea of process and the historical outlook from 
Hegel and IJarwin. It then took the idea of scientific method 
from the Western world, the materialist outlook from phys- 
ical science and technology, and the economic and class 
outlook (but not the individualist outlook) from the social 
structure of the nineteenth-century West. In so doing, Maw- 
ism accomplished a curious feat: it took over the basic 
dualism pf Western European thought, but then proceeded 
to transform it into a phony monism, a sham unitary system, 
by denying validity to one of its two components, namely the 
mental aspect. • , 

The Marxists, perhaps unconsciously, took over the idea 
of their power structure from the dogmatic authorita- 
rianism of medieval Christendom, the idea of nationalism 
from the past of Russia, and the idea of universalism from 
the Enlightenment; and these three ideas in combination 
inevitably produced the idea of a monolithic state, exclusive 
but expansionist, based on a dogmatic cultural and political 

However, it is really only the facade of the Marxist system 
that is monolithic, and behind it there are many splits. The 
chief split is the result of the tension between the individual, 
whose significance qua individual is denied or repudiated, 
and the State as organized domination and as an object of 
subservience. There is the split between the overt material- 
ism of the system and its repressed mental and spiritual 
aspects. Finally, there is the split in intellectual and cultural 
life between tfte scientific and the dogmatic methods of 
organizing and expressing thought; this was most strikingly 
exemplified by the Lysenko controversy, but is apparent 
also in many other fields of science, learning, and art. 

i 257 


But we in the West are more immediately concerned with 
the splits of our own system. It would be possible to list a 
large number of siich splits operating within our present 
thought: the split betweqp nature and man, between subject 
and object, between religion and science, between good and 
evil, between free will and necessity, and dozens more. 
However, these are all in a sense only symptoms or produces 
of our one basic split, the fundamental dualism of Western 
thought, which has resulted in a radical dissociation of 
Western culture and personality. This has been in operation 
ever since the time of Plato and Paul, though, it has been 
manifested in all sorts of different ways in different periods : 
the split persists, but its manifestations change according to 

«What are the chief current manifestations of this basic 
split? I would suggest, first of all, our over-specialization 
as against the development of an all-round apprpach, too 
much reliance on analysis into separate elements, too little on 
unitary comprehension : in general terms, too much differen- 
tiation and not 4 enough integration. A special case of this 
is the over-emphasis on quantity, as against quality and 
the significance of qualitative values. This over-emphasis, • 
though most marked in scientific thought, has also been 
characteristic of economics, and its value-debasing influence 
has spread over many aspects of everyday life. To-day, 
we are just beginning to realize that faf from the principle 
of quantity being fundamental, it is not even inherent in 
the nature of the universe. It is we ourselves who have put 
quantity and number and mathematics into the universe. 
W6 have done so by employing the technique of measure- 
ment for our own purposes: measurement *and mathematical 
formulation are essential for certain' kinds of comprehension, 
and for the precision control which is needed for efficient 
technology. Sir James Jeans' pronouncement that God must 
be a mathematician was just another example of man's age- 
old practice of creating God in his own image. 

Then there has been the collapse of the traditional con- 
fidence-giving beliefs, a collapse largely brought about 
through the rise of science; while in the meantime science, 
by clinging to the pretence that it was ethically and morally 


# • 

neutral, has debarred itself from providing confidence or 
from assisting in the # building up of new systems of belief 
in plac£ of the old. 

Meanwhile a further depth of iasecurity and fear — man's 
•fear of his own self — has recited from the revelation of 
sadism and bestiality which came to the surface in the last 
war. As a consequence an old problem has been aggravated 
— the projection of our own fears and repressed aggressivity 
on to enemies, who can then serve as convenient scapegoats 
for our own guilt. We are constantly searching for enemies, 
or even creating them, in order to justify ourselves: and 
that inevitably enlarges minor differences into major ones, 
and makes any actual splits appear as apparently un- 
bridgeable chasms and irreconcilable conflicts. One of the 
reasons why the split between East and West is so gravef is 
that we have ourselves magnified both its size and its gravity, 
largely by thinking about our admittedly serious differences 
in terms of black-and-white opposition. Many Westerners 
have ceased to think of Russians as human beings: they 
have become, in 'some non-rational absolute sense, just 

Finally, there is the inhibition,' the negativist pessimism, 
the energy-consuming conflict, and the essential destructive- 
ness of all split thought, in place of the rational faith, the 
positive facilitation, and the energy-releasing constructive- 
ness which could Be ours if we could but unify our think- 
ing—conflict as against unitary purpose, frustration as 
against fruition. 

This brings me back to the emergent idea-system, # the 
new organization of thought, at whose birth we are assisting. 
It takes account, Urst and foremost, of the fact that nature is 
one universal process of evolution, self-developing and self- 
transforming, and that it includes us. Man does not stand 
over against nature; he is part of it. We men are that part 
of the process which has become self-conscious, and it is our 
duty and our destiny to facilitate the process by leading it 
on to new'levels. 

Our chief motive, therefore, will derive from the explora- 
tion and understanding of human nature and the possibilities 
of development and fulfilment inherent in tt, a study which 



will of course include the limitations, distortions, and 
frustrations to be avoided. 

Such a philosophy might perhaps best be called Trans- 
humanism. It is based on the idea of humanity attempting 
to overcome its limitations aqd to arrive at fuller fruition; it 
is the realization that both individual and social development 
are processes of self-transformation. r- 

The accumulation and organization of knowledge pro- 
vides both the necessary basis and the main mechanism for 
human transformation. In the light of that fact, t»uth can 
be defined as the organization of our knowledge in greater 
concordance with reality. The truth of the transhumanist 
approach and its central conception is larger and more 
universal than any previous truth, and is bound in the long 
run to supersede lesser, more partial, or more distorted 
truths, such as Marxism, or Christian theology, or liberal 
individualism, or at any rate to assimilate those of their 
elements which are relevant to itself. 

In the light of such an overriding idea, the individual is 
seen as a part of the social process, and a very important 
part of it, just as man is seen as a very important part of the 
cosmic process. He need no longer feel insulted by the fact 
of death or by his own insignificance. Once he can grasp 
that he is a part, and an operative part, of an enduring 
process, he need not continue to compensate for his isolation 
by mere personal ambition or by frantic deriving for superior 
status or superior achievement. Once he grasps that his main 
job is the optimum realization of the possibilities of his own 
development, and that this, if well and truly accomplished, 
will' at the same time inevitably facilitate or contribute to 
the realization of the possibilities of society; and of mankind, 
and of the cosmic process as a whtfle, he can 1 " acquire a new 
sense of oneness with the rest of existence. 

Various elements in other previous systems could and 
should be taken over by the new system of thought, and 
assimilated into its new pattern. There is the equal worth 
or intrinsic value of all human beings, taken over from 
Christianity and Western democracy; the importance of 
the individual, taken over from the post-Renaissance era, the 
scientific method of objective testing and the principle of 


limited certitude, from the three centuries of natural science; 
the importance of quantitative thinking, from technology 
and precision control; the importance 'of quality, from the 
arts and from philosophy; the application of the evolutionary 
or historical idea to society, from Hegel and Marx; the value 
of variety, both for individuals and for cultures, from social 
anthropology; the idea of what we may call external ad- 
venture — activism, exploration, control of nature — from the 
Renaissance and natural science, from technology and sport, 
and from Marxism; but also the correlative of this, on the 
other side <jf the basic split, the idea of internal adventure — 
contemplation, self-discipline, and control of oneself — from 
the poets, artists, philosophers, and mystics of all continents. 

Then we very much need to take over the ideas of 
wholeness and harmony, largely from Oriental thought; 
and, of course, the idea of order, law, and the necessary 
hierarcl\y of authority from various sources in past history. 

We may have to combine and adjust these elements in 
various ways. For instance, one may combine the scientific 
approach with the idea of hierarchy of authority, in the 
affirmation that the final authority in the society of the future 
will be that of knowledge: we cannot help but obey the 
truth once we have successfully made the effort of clearly 
identifying and recognizing it. 

And so our new idea-system gradually begins to take 
shape. Its central ordering concept is the idea that our human 
destiny is to have the unique privilege and responsibility of 
leadership in the process of evolution : there is one reality, 
and man is its prophet and pioneer. 

The long-term component of this is the discovery that the 
process is universal, the process of the universe as a whole; 
that it is a crdktive, open process with indefinite possibilities 
of fulfilment still unrealized before it, one to be fully grasped 
and comprehended only in the active process of realizing it. 
This automatically heals the basic split between man and 
nature. And the split between the individual and society is 
healed by the'discovery that in self-fulfilment, through the 
development of his personality, the individual is making his 
particular contribution to the cosmic process. 

What we may call the medium-term component, applic- 



able to all human activities, whether of individuals or groups, 
is the idea of participation in the enterprise of human evolu- 
tion, contributing to the creative self-tt-ansformation of man. 
The chief dynamic or central motive here is the exploration 
of human possibilities and opportunities. 

The short-term component, that which is immediately 
applicable to the present situation, is the idea that the worlil 
of man can be unified, but only on the basis of widespread 
understanding of the meaning of unification and the need 
for it. In other words, the human species, as an operative 
agency, must become conscious of itself as a single process 
which will only operate efficiently and freely if unified. And 
this will only happen if the mass of people everywhere are 
free to think about the problem; only when they are liber- 
ated from the compulsions of ill-health, material misery, and 
ignorance, will they be able to turn their attention away from 
themselves and their particular frustrations and direct it on 
to their relations to the world at large. 

The chief dynamic here is, on the one hand, the already 
widespread belief that science can provide at least a minimum 
adequacy of food, health, and material well-being, with the 
resultant demand for this on the part of the under-privileged 
millions; and, on the other, the dawning belief that only 
knowledge can set man truly free, with the resulting demand 
for more knowledge, more science, and better education. 

All this has direct implications for morality. Thus one 
immediate moral duty is to try to identify and understand 
the transformation of human development which the present 
situation calls for, and to devise appropriate methods for 
thin'king about it. 


I must now speak about some of the implications and 
applications of any such, unitary approach to the problem of 
human destiny. The first is that we must learn to adopt a 
unitary and evolutionary mode of thinking, in terms of total 
pattern and continuing process. 

This means using intuition and imagination — unitary 
comprehension of truth and total significance, imagination 
of new possibilities and of the consequences of new facts and 
ideas — as well aathe analytic processes of reason. Of course, 



they must be employed in conjunction with analytic reason 
and with the laborious process of testing against reality. We 
must learn to regard intellectual ailalysis and scientific 
objectivity, not as the sole or m^in, or even as a separate 
method of thinking, but as a^means for improving intuitive 
comprehension and appreciation and their applications. 

This is not easy. It is a new technique, a new type of skill 
which we have to learn, like mathematical skill, or skiing, or 
playing the piano. It demands time and effort and will 
inevitably meet with resistance, not only from the vested 
interests o/ other modes of thinking but from our natural 
laziness and our existing mental habits and established 
organizations of thought. But like other skills, it is a pattern 
of activity which, once acquired, can be applied in a great 
variety of detailed situations, and a capacity whose free 
exercise provides new sources of satisfaction. 

Throughout life we are confronted by the need for organ- 
izing our experience and our thought. This is illustrated by 
the way in which we organize our perceptions and our con- 
cepts. The need here is to organize the primordial chaos of 
sense-data with which our infant minds are confronted into 
a first degree of order. When we say that we perceive an 
object, we imply that wc have intuitively recognized a par- 
ticular example of some general configuration of sense-data, 
which we have unconsciously learned in our past lives to 
associate in a singte general pattern. From one point of view, 
a perceived object is thus a pattern of assumptions, as can 
be demonstrated by experiments on illusions. 

But the assumptions are also predictions, in that they have 
all sorts of potential significance for our future. For instance, 
we unconsciously predict of a heavy solid object that it will 
need effort fb handle and can hurt us mechanically; of fire 
that it may burn us; of food that it will taste good. 

Concepts are organizations of thought involving gener- 
ality. Into them too we often put assumptions : for instance, 
the assumption that the immediate separability and tem- 
porary persistence of what we call objects or things are 
absolute, permanent, and essential to them; and, by exten- 
sion, that abstract concepts like goodness or truth are also 
permanent and absolute essences or qualities. Historically, 


man appears to have generalized his notions of separateness 
and persistence before he felt the need to generalize those 
of wholeness or of togetherness in patterned relation, or 
those of process or orderly change in development. 

The need for this new mo4e of organizing our experience 
is only now becoming fully apparent. We have at last dis- 
covered that the reality with which we have to deal is c 
hierarchy of patterned processes. We must now learn how 
to recognize unit processes as we earlier learned to recognize 
unit objects, to comprehend their characters as weJearned 
to comprehend the properties of objects; in sa doing, we 
shall learn to comprehend the patterns of development which 
are inherently possible for them, and to make correct 
assumptions or predictions about their effects. 

The principle of causality and the formulation of regu- 
larities in the shape of scientific laws represent, I suppose, 
the highest achievements of the analytic and static method. 
To-day we need, not to abolish them, but to transcend them. 
This we can do through proper formulation of the principles 
of relational adjustment and of order in terms of intrinsic 
modes and forms of development. 

Now for some of the implications of any such formula- 
tions. I will begin with one relevant to psychiatry. In the 
recent past there has been a tendency to minimize the 
importance of reason by interpreting it mainly as rational- 
ization, and to consider the organizatten of thought as 
a secondary product of our instinctual and emotional life. 
Thus any split thinking we may display has tended to be 
regarded as a resultant, a symptom of basic personality 
dissociation or primordial conflict, in conjunction with 
social tensions and cultural splits. This, however, is turning 
out to be incorrect : indeed, the tendency itself results from 
our thought being unintsgrated. 

We in the West grow up in a system of thought which 
forces its own dissociation on to the unitary reality of things. 
The very organization of our language, and all our habitual 
ways of thinking, artificially dissociate real and ideal, object 
and subject, quantity and quality, material and spiritual, 
right and wrong, good and evil, "we" of the in-group and 
"they" of the out^group, individual and society, intuitional 


appreciation and intellectual analysis. How can *we expect 
people to grow up whole in a world which is presented to 
them already split by the organization df thought, and when 
the main instrument we give them in education is one for 
carving reality into separate slices? It is true that art is a 
method for putting some of tlfe slices together again, some- 
times even for presenting situations as wholes without pre- 
liminary carving up; but it is also true that the entire trend 
of the modern West has been to relegate art to an inferior 
position^ vis-i-vis analytic science. 

Of course I do not intend to imply that we should go to 
the opposite extreme and say that either split personality or 
social tension is only the symptom or resultant of split 
thought. That would be to perpetuate the same basic error, 
after merely turning it upside down. No, we must learn .to 
think in unitary terms. Then we shall see thought as an 
element # in the totality of human life and social transforma- 
tion, inevitably related to and reacting with other elements 
in the process — an element whose organization is in part 
determined by the rest, but which also hejps to determine 
the whole. For unitary thinking, nothing is merely cause or 
merely effect, nothing solely symptom or solely determin- 
ant; everything is related together in mutual interaction to 
produce a characteristic pattern of development. 

The pattern-process type of thinking inevitably substi- 
tutes the idea of wholeness for anything in the nature of a 
final goal or static absolute, and that of harmony for ideal 
perfection. It is perhaps not irrelevant to recall that ety- 
mologically the very word "health" means "wholeness". 

In laying stress on conscious thinking, I do not wish to 
minimize the importance of the unconscious. Indeed, the 
unitary and evolutionary approach cannot draw so sharp a 
distinction between the conscious ajjd the unconscious as is 
done either by theology, by idealist philosophy, or by most 
psycho-analytic formulations. For unitary thought, con- 
scious thinking represents merely the most highly developed 
and mosffull/ integrated process of organizing and dealing 
with experience. Sometimes the process of the brain raises 
itself above the threshold of consciousness, sometimes it 
sinks below it; but so long as the entire brain is functioning, 

i 265 


the charac'cer of the process remains the same. It is only 
through dissociation or active repression that any sharp 
division is introduced between the c6nscious and«the un- 

Once we learn to see reality as a pattern of unitary pro- 
cesses, freedom acquires a new meaning — the felt necessity 
of unfrustrated development, the active creativity of selfe- 
realization. Similarly with morality. What we have been used 
to call "morality" is essentially superficial; it deals with 
symptoms of maladjustment or dissociation. Morality now 
becomes more or less synonymous with right direction, with 
behaviour which facilitates the fullest and speediest realiz- 
ation of characteristic development. 

Our new unitary approach transforms the Marxists' claim 
that "history is on our side". Marxism does its best to 
remove thought and mind from any active share in deter- 
mining events; our new approach, by putting them back into 
the historical process as operative agents, enables us to 
reformulate the phrase thus: "we are participants in the 
adventure of history and can, if we think rightly, facilitate 
its right development". 

It gives the individual a different position in relation to 
society. Against this new background he can satisfy his 
longing to be in relation with something bigger than him- 
self, in many ways. Since the development of human person- 
alities is one of the most important ways in which the cosmic 
process fulfils itself, he can feel united with it, not selfishly 
withdrawn from it, in virtue of developing his own person- 
ality or in realizing particular aspects of it fully, for instance 
in aft or science or athletics. He can also obtain satisfaction 
by consciously acting as a cog in the great dynamic machine, 
by contributing his energy or his skill to its service. If he is 
fortunate, he can do so by helping to lead the process on 
through an effort of creative thought or scientific discovery; 
or by bearing witness, as it is fashionable to say in literary 
circles now, through literature or art to the significance, the 
beauty, the interest, or the value of some aspect of the 

That remarkable man, Abdul Baha, wrote that "the 
greatest prison isathe prison of self". That is true — but it is 



only half the truth. It is true that the self can become the 
individual's greatest prison. But for those who have found 
themselves, discovering their unity with their own deeper 
natures, ith others, and with tha rest of the universe, the 
• self can be the root of unlimited freedom, the jumping-off 
place for infinity. As Whitman said after he had found 

... I, turning, call to thee, O soul, thou actual Me, 
And lo! thou gently masterest the orbs, 

Greater than stars or suns, 

Bounding, O soul, thou journcyest forth . . . 

I would like to return a moment to the problem of 
adapting the organization of our thought and its conscicfUs 
formulations to reality and our knowledge of reality. An 
obvious ^example is the way in which man has formulated 
persistent regularities in nature. The old way, current right 
through the Middle Ages, was to ascribe such regularities to 
inherent principles or qualities; to-day we describe the regu- 
larities that we discover, but describe them in the concentrated 
form of scientific laws and theories. Thus the old principle 
of there being four elements with different qualities has 
been superseded by the particulate theory of matter and the 
laws of atomic structure and combination: the old idea of 
opposed qualities "of lightness and heaviness inherent in 
matter has been superseded by the law of gravitation. 

The very terms we use may express the type of organiza- 
tion of our thought. For instance, the description of hugian 
nature in the old terms of the different humours has now 
long been superseded by description in terms of genetics, 
endocrinology, neurology, psychosomatic types, and so on. 
The advance of science has often depended on the super- 
session of terminology involving a dualistic approach by one 
based on a unitary approach. Thus, for instance, Newton 
could not forpiulate the laws of gravitation before the 
dualism of lightness versus heaviness had been superseded 
by the unitary idea of greater or less degrees of weight or 

The example of temperature shows ho# terminology is 



not a mere matter of academic semantics but a method of 
organizing and handling our experience. In the old days, 
heat and cold were thought of as due to antagonistic prin- 
ciples or qualities of hotness and coldness, inherent in 
matter. Since the seventeenth century, that idea has been 
superseded by the single concept of temperature, degrees 
of one thing instead of a balance between two opposing 
things. We can still usefully employ the terms "hot" and 
"cold", but merely to denote certain aspects of our sub- 
jective experience; the terms now only have significance 
against the background of the single scale of temperature. 

In a somewhat similar way, motion and rest have been 
subsumed under the single head of relativity, though the 
dualistic terminology is still useful within that framework. 
The old opposed ideas of complete material occupancy of 
space or its complete emptiness have been co-ordinated in 
the gas laws under the single idea of degrees of presrure, and 
in the material universe at large under that of degree of 
concentration of matter. It is true that we can still use the 
word "vacuum", but only in a rather derivative sense, of 
extremely low concentration of matter in space. 

One of the intellectual urgencies of to-day is to reorganize 
thought, wherever it is still dualistic, under the head of new 
unitary concepts. In many fields this will involve inventing 
new terminology. For instance, how are we going to sub- 
sume the apparently opposed qualities ok variety and unity? 
Perhaps under the head of "pattern" or "degree of organ- 
ization". The duality of cause and effect perhaps can be 
subsumed under theOne ideaof the most probable tendencies 
of a process. The ancient duality of good and evil can 
perhaps be unified in relation to the degree of undistorted 
self-development, and the opposed ideas or "friend" and 
"enemy" under the one head of degree of participation in a 
common effort. 

Sometimes the very principle on which a concept organ- 
izes experience and thought turns out to be incorrect, in the 
sense of not being adapted to the nature of reality. If so, the 
concept is assuredly destined to disappear, just as some 
animal types were aoomed to extinction through not being 
adapted to the rAality of the evolutionary situation. This has 



actually occurred with our previous examples of the four 
elements and the humours, and, in civilized countries, also 
with tha concept of sympathetic magic. 

I would like now to consider qertain aspects of religion, 
notably the concept of God.^This affords one of the best 
examples of the influence of the formulation or mode of 
organization of knowledge on everyday life and practice. It 
also illustrates how a concept with a high degree of organiza- 
tion, which at first sight appears to be solely a unifying one, 
may tuim out to be fundamentally dualistic. 

The wor4 "God" formulates in one single term and con- 
cept various features of man's experience, such as sacredness, 
transcendent significance, permanence, ultimacy, personal 
authority (including its functions such as responsibility and 
loving care as well as justice and compulsion), and power. 

So long as all this was formulated in the single concept of 
a divine; ruler, man's idea of his destiny received a certain 
slant, and rituals of propitiation were inevitable. Such a 
formulation introduces a split into the world, between man 
and God, between natural and supernatural. Indeed, the 
concept of God was brought into existence by virtue of split 

Here I cannot forbear recounting an incident about my 
grandfather, T. H, Huxley, at the inauguration of Johns 
Hopkins University. His invitation to deliver the inaugural 
address raised a stflrm, partly because he was a controversial 
figure and partly because the ceremonies were conducted 
without the customary opening prayer. President Isaiah 
Bowman of Johns Hopkins, before his lamented death, 
showed me a letter from a Congregationalist minister in New 
York to a colleague of his in Baltimore apropos of the 
situation. His words afe firmly engraved on my memory: 
"'Twas an ill thing to have invited Professor Huxley; 'twere 
better to have invited God; 'twould have been impossible 
to have invited both." To-day, I am coming to believe that 
it is impossible to invite the aid of the concept of unitary 
thought without dropping our invitation to God. 

The particular system of thought, feeling, and action 
known as religion has always involved our knowledge, 
beliefs, and assumptions about human destiny, and has 



always been concerned with our relations with some power 
apprehended as existing outside or beyond our life, irre- 
spective of our individual desires — something not ourselves, 
given in the nature of reality. Further, it always involves the 
sense of psychological or spiritual significance and effective- 
ness in life, and in particular what Otto has called the sense 
of the sacred. 

It seems to have begun by combining these two appre- 
hensions — the apprehension of power with the apprehension 
of sacredness — and so becoming concerned with what may 
be called "sacred power". Historically, it has consisted of 
the beliefs, actions, rituals, and experiences which express 
and embody the significance and effectiveness of that power. 

During history, religion has undergone protean transfor- 
mations. This is inevitable, since its form and organization, 
the modes in which it exercises its dynamic force, are con- 
ditioned by the picture which men are able to formulate of 
the sacred power underlying religion, and this in its turn 
is conditioned by the knowledge available and the compre- 
hension reached at any stage. 

The main types of formulation so far made appear to be 
as follows. 

First of all, the magic stage. In this sacred power is 
assumed to be widespread in nature, but especially con- 
centrated in certain* striking objects and events, and in 
certain rituals. Divinity, or "godness", ' if we may coin a 
word, is thus thought of as diffused, and is not yet dis- 
tinguished from mere sacredness. 

The next stage is the animistic. In this, sacred power is 
assumed to emanate from beings similar to human person- 
alities ; but these are regarded as being soirtehow still in the 
sacred or magic objects or events. Men projected certain of 
their own capacities, of will and purpose, emotion and know- 
ledge, into the elements of nature which were felt to be 
sacred. The strangeness or other psychological effectiveness 
which led to the ascription of sacred power to objects, events, 
or rituals is now more definitely held to be divine, and some- 
how organized into person-like forms, though ideas on this 
point are usually vague and often contradictory, as one can 
see by studying early forms of religion in the neolithic dawn 



of civilization in the Middle East. Here "godness", the 
quality of being divine, is beginning to be concentrated into 
a large number of minor divinities, none of which, however, 
have much resemblance to the godf* of more highly developed 
• religions. Furthermore, "godjiess" may be projected into 
men as well as into divinities, giving rise to heroes and demi- 
gods and divine human personages such as the Egyptian 
Pharaohs and, later, the Roman Emperors, not to mention 
the bizarre contemporary phenomenon of "God" in the 
person of Father Divine. Essentially the same process, of 
endowing human beings with superhuman attributes, has 
been applied to modern dictators, though here the quality of 
sacredness is not usually used explicitly. But the practical, 
though not the semantic result, is the same — a divine 
human personage. 1 » 

Next came the theological stage, in which* the diffuse 
principle of divinity is not merely condensed into gods 
of more definitely personal nature, but is to an increasing 
extent placed behind instead of in phenomena. There are two 
distinct substages* of this stage, the polytheistic and the 
monotheistic, though again all transitions between them are 
to be found. This seems to have been the mode of develop- 
ment in the West, though various religions in the East, 
notably pure Buddhism, have pursued a rather different 

Once personality is ascribed to divinity, the gods must be 
treated as one would treat absolute human rulers, and wor- 
ship, propitiation, and sacrifice inevitably become prominent 
features of religion. They can and sometimes do appear in 
the earlier preanimistic stages, but in much less developed 
forms. • 

Each of tliese main Stages clearly embodies a different 
hypothesis or set of assumptions. The first makes the naive 
assumption that a psychological quality resides in its object. 
The second takes the elementary first step in pseudo-logical 
thinking # (one # taken by most children at an early stage), 
namely, tfie assumption that objects or events which affect us, 
or operate so as to produce effective results in our lives, can 

1 Since this was written, Stalin has been brusquely "de-deified" by his 
successors. # 



do so because they are animated by something akin to human 
personality, endowed with will, emotion, and knowledge. 
In so doing, it utilizes the psychological mechanism of 
projection. , 

The third stage takes th^ second stage farther, in two 
steps. In the first, man is forced to come to terms with his 
increasing empirical knowledge about material phenomena; 
he realizes that material objects, however sacred, cannot 
well be actually animated by personality, and therefore 
places divine personalities behind the objects. The second 
step, from polytheism to monotheism, seems to be taken 
partly under the pressure of an inner psychological logic, a 
felt need for unity, partly as a result of realizing the objective 
fact of the interrelation of all phenomena. 

<To-day, a fourth stage is in process of being reached. The 
critical intellect is realizing that these different ways of 
envisaging sacred power are all merely hypotheses or 
assumptions, and almost wholly subjective; that the earlier 
ones— of mana, magic, animism, and multiple divinity — 
have failed to be* verified and indeed have been disproved; 
and that the third, of a single God, is in danger of suffering 
the same fate. The theistic assumption cannot make the 
positive advance towards scientific respectability, since it is 
objectively unverifiable (except by way ot so-called miracu- 
lous occurrences whieh the scientific mind of to-day refuses to 
accept as evidence) ; and negatively it is Sn danger of being 
rendered untenable by virtue of advances in knowledge. In 
this new emergent stage, human minds, critical in the light 
of new knowledge, are no longer able to accept a God as a 
working hypothesis to explain phenomena, still less to accept 
Christian or any other theology as a scientific theory of 
human destiny. Laplace told Napoleon that God was no 
longer a necessary hypothesis in celestial mechanics : to-day 
God is becoming an erroneous hypothesis in all aspects of 
reality, including man's spiritual life. 

The first result of this change in attitude and organiza- 
tion of thought has tended to be negative. Sometimes the 
baby is thrown out with the bath; the rejection of the idea 
of a personal God comes to involve the more or less complete 
rejection of whabare generally termed spiritual values and 



realities, as in orthodox Marxism, or at least the Rejection of 
their efficacy or relevance to practical affairs, as in laisser- 
faire ec^pomics and hard-shell rationalism. Often it has led 
to the raHical separation, both in thought and practice, of 
the material and practical frcpi the sacred and spiritual, of 
business and politics from religion and morality. This is the 
phase through which many people are now passing in the 
Western world, and which the representatives of estab- 
lished religious systems characterize as "irreligion" or "loss 
of faith!'. 

Howeve/, with the development of a fully naturalistic 
outlook the transformation of thought is capable of passing 
from a negative to a positive phase. Men can cast off the 
blinkers of dualism. They find that, after all, spiritual 
experiences, including the sense of the sacred, are an im- 
portant part of reality. They realize that it wafi merely the 
assumptions about the relations of spiritual experience with 
the rest of reality which they were unable to accept. They 
also realize that, once the formulation of gods, as personal 
•beings behind phenomena, had been mad$, and dissociated 
thinking had built its artificial fence between God and nature, 
the transition to monotheism was not merely logically but 
empirically indicated, as a step towards expressing the real 
unity and continuity of the cosmos, but was an incomplete 
step, since the concept of God itself involves dualism. Re- 
garded in this light, the fall of man is not a fall from good to 
evil, but a falling apart of the universe into good and evil, 
consequent upon man having split it into Nature and God. 

Even when under the influence of a prevailing dualism, 
men have been unwilling to put all the elements of divinity 
on the other side of the fence they have erected between 
nature and tHe supernatural. Priest-kings endowed with the 
attributes of god, rulers deified during their lifetime, from 
the Roman Emperors to Joseph Stalin, manage to keep some 
of the elements of divinity on the natural side of the fence: 
the doctrine of the incarnation is a brilliant device to put 
back some of God into man : all theories of divine immanence 
and of pantheism attempt to take down the fence itself; and 
the great mystics have learnt by experience that divinity is 
to be found within us. 



One way in which religion can properly be described is 
as man's conception of his destiny. To-day, this can be 
formulated in a unitary way, as a spear-heading ;rnd con- 
densation of evolution, by realizing new possibilities for life. 
Such a unitary formulation dpes not take the sacred power 
from where it belongs — namely, in particular relations be- 
tween particular human beings and particular objects and 
events — and erroneously project it into a single supernatural 
being. It can recognize the plurality and multiple variety of 
the world and of life, and yet superimpose unity upon it by 
way of a unitary formulation. * 

Man inevitably discovers that existence involves mystery. 
Perhaps the latest revelation of inherent mystery is the dis- 
covery by science of the unexpected unity of all nature. All 
the realities which were taken out of nature and put together 
in the supernatural concept of God can now be put back into 
the natural process. And there, if their relation to the whole 
process is properly grasped, they can exert at least as much 
and perhaps more force than they did under the old dis- 

I must now pass to some of the implications of such a 
view for science. It seems to me we are in danger of intro- 
ducing a new split into thought by thinking of science as in 
any sense an unchanging entity, separate from the rest of 
reality, and possessing a different kind of validity and 
certainty from that of other modes of orgdhizing experience. 

We speak of scientific certainty; on the other hand, the 
growth of science has undoubtedly led at the present time 
to the growth of uncertainty. This is due partly to the 
rapidity of new discovery, and to its exploitation by sensa- 
tionalism. The mere fact of realizing how rftany surprising, 
disconcerting discoveries science haS made in the last fifty 
years, and yet how much we still do not know, is also 
unsettling. Finally there is the uncertainty caused by the 
conflict between scientific knowledge and traditional beliefs, 
and also by the contradiction between scientific method and 
the methods of thinking which appear natural to the bulk 
of the community. Under this last head I include not only 
the naive attitudes of the relatively uneducated masses but 
also the thinking of those educated in the humanist or 



religious tradition. This last conflict will continue* so long as 
people fail to understand that science is a limited activity, 
though >(ith an unlimited field, immensely successful within 
that field and eventually influencing other fields, but not 
• directly applicable to aesthefic creation or appreciation, 
intuitive comprehension, or spiritual experience. 
• The unsettling effect of science can be overcome if we 
stress its other effect, in establishing an increasing body of 
increasingly accurate knowledge. That is something which is 
often forgotten by the critics of science. It is the outcome 
of the principle of limited but increasing certitude. This is 
the underlying strategical principle on which the scientific 
method operates. Tactically, science proceeds by means of 
working hypotheses, which are later tested out by checking 
against factual observation. The campaign for certitude then 
proceeds to organize prediction by formulati»g observed 
regularities in the form of scientific laws, and to organize 
comprehension by formulating our ideas in the form of 
scientific theories. 

Scientific laws, 'let us remind ourselves^ are never more 
than an approximation to the truth, though the approxima- 
1 tion may be an extremely close one; and scientific theories 
never have more than a limited comprehensiveness. But the 
scientific method *is by far the best so far discovered for 
acquiring and organizing natural knowledge. 

Its effectivenesses at once shown by reminding ourselves 
of some of the ideological and moral effects of the advance 
of scientific knowledge. As examples we may take the real- 
ization that earthquakes, droughts, and other physical 
catastrophes are natural phenomena, and not due to divine 
intervention or supernatural agency; or the realization that 
disease and death are dfle to infective agents, not to divine 
punishment or witchcraft. We have only to read Boccaccio's 
Decameron to realize what horror and fear was aroused in 
civilized Europe only a few centuries ago by this unap- 
prehended mystery of epidemic disease. We have only to take 
a plane to" Africa to realize that the tribal African to-day still 
firmly believes that no death is ever natural, but must always 
be due to witchcraft. 

There is the realization that all objects, organic or in- 



organic, consist of the same matter and operate by the same 
energy, so that neither life nor man is set apart from the rest 
of the world in these two basic respects; the fact/that the 
mind is not an incalculable extranatural entity, but develops 
and operates according to ascertainable laws or rules, and 
that its workings can most fruitfully be regarded as one 
aspect of the unitary organism; the fact that man has not 
been created helpless or as a slave of some external auth- 
ority, but is the most creative part of the total creative 

It is thus urgent that we should take this basic scientific 
principle of limited but increasing certitude, constantly 
checked against the facts of nature, and adapt and transpose 
it for use in other fields — limited but increasing Tightness 
in rthe field of morality, in the place of absolute rightness as 
against absolute wrongness; limited but increasing signifi- 
cance in the field of art, in the place of right or good art as 
against wrong or bad art; limited but increasing compre- 
hension in the field of religion, in place of the false absolutes 
of authoritarian , dogma, in which absolute "truth" is set 
against absolute "error"; limited but increasing faith and 
confidence, checked and validated by experience, in place of 
the false certitudes of purely subjective feeling. 

Finally, let us remember that science is hot an unchanging 
entity: it evolves and changes its character like everything 
else. Indeed it is becoming clear that Science itself needs 
considerable overhauling and transformation. As indicated 
earlier, it needs to devise methods for dealing with pattern, 
process, and quality, as well as with isolated elements, static 
or reversible events, and quantity. And in so doing it is 
bound to abandon its isolationism, its pretence of sovereign 
separateness and its pretence of being moralfy neutral, for 
it will find itself operating as part of the total human process, 
in common harness with emotion, value, and purpose. 

Thus, one might seek to apply the unitary outlook to 
political science. The main point is that, in the light of our 
present knowledge, the only way to envisage the state or the 
community is as an organization to facilitate and promote 
the development of its members and the fullest realization 
of their individual potentialities. This, as is immediately 



evident, knocks the bottom out of Fascism and Stalinist 
Communism and any other kind of totalitarianism or State- 
worshipv Furthermore, it puts politicaf nationalism into its 
proper place and perspective as t a temporary expedient, a 
means which may sometimes ^ave to be employed to realize 
certain ends. 

• Then there is the gathering belief, based on the awareness 
of what science has already done and the resultant myth of 
scientific omnipotence, that science could provide minimum 
standards of food, health, and material comfort for every- 
body; and, the gathering demand, by the great under- 
privileged majority, for the raising of the standards of their 

These facts have direct implications for the great powers, 
and particularly for the United States as the greatest power 
in the present world: but the implications musfrbe drawn in 
the ligbt of a unitary approach. The United States can 
assume a decisive leadership in the present crisis only if it can 
see itself in relation to the process of transformation as a 
whole. It could provide essential leadershipjn facilitating the 
transformation of the world to higher minimum standards 
of material life for the under-privileged and more freedom 
for the exploited and backward : it will inevitably do so if 
it can learn to think of them and itself as joint participants 
in man's global adventure. The great powers must learn to 
see themselves in the role of an active partner in this joint 
enterprise. Their leadership will consist partly in introduc- 
ing to the backward, upsurging masses the idea that material 
standards are only the basis for a fuller development, the 
necessary foundation on which further possibilities of khow- 
ledge and enjoytnent may be realized; for to concentrate on 
material standards alorfe would inevitably degenerate into a 
scramble for material goods, unless it is transcended by the 
more inclusive motive of realizing total human possibilities. 

It is not by exploiting economic concessions or by estab- 
lishing bases or by purely military victories that a nation 
will win" Indeed, "winning" is not the right word: world 
affairs are not a game of football, and mere victory, whatever 
General MacArthur may say, is not the ultimate aim of war. 
What the United States and other great powers should aim 




at is to succeed — in providing leadership and in facilitating 
right development for the world at large; and this it can do 
if it successfully provides good-will and expert assistance, 
material and mental aid, tp the world's development. 

I will conclude with the ideji with which I began, the idea 
of human destiny. We can no longer envisage human destiny 
in such terms as the will of God set over against the sinful 
will of man, or as the plan of a divine creator frustrated by 
the imperfections and wilfulness of his creation. Human 
destiny is to participate in the creative process of develop- 
ment, whereby the universe as a whole can realise more of 
its potentialities in richer and greater fulfilments. 

For man to fulfil his destiny truly and effectively, the first 
step must be one of discovery. He must learn to recognize 
and identify the systems of transformation operating in 
reality, the nature of the self-creative process as a dynamic 
organization, its form, and the modes of the transformation 
of that form to new and richer forms; and in particular the 
particular transformation now under way. 

Once the nature and character of a process has been truly 
and effectively grasped, prediction, in the sense of justifiable 
assumptions on which to base purposive action, at once 
becomes possible, for the laws governing the development 
of such a system are implicit in its nature and form. In truly 
unitary thought, effectively adjusted to deal with the unitary 
processes of nature, to recognize is to be aWe to comprehend, 
and to comprehend is to be able to act. Any such new formu- 
lation of thought will need time and effort to achieve: but 
in it, once achieved, thought will become involved with 
action, and science acquire a morality in helping man to 
recognize his destiny. 



. Among the many things for wliich T. H. Huxley is re- 
-^Vmembered is the fact that he coined the word agnostic as 
a. label for himself. I would guess that to the majority of 
people to-day that word connotes a rather arid rationalism, 
something essentially negative and even destructive. Yet in 
point of, fact it was only the philosophical obverse of his 
belief in sconce, and did not prevent him from cherishing 
a strong and positive faith. 

In one of his essays he equates the principle underlying 
agnosticism with the ancient prescription "Try all things: 
hold fast by that which is good", and calls it "the funda- 
mental axiom of modern science". In his remaikable letter 
to Charlgs Kingsley he proclaims the very positive thesis that 
"the most sacred act of a man's life is to say and to feel 'I 
believe such and such to be true'". He was, in fact, deeply 
preoccupied with the central problems of .human destiny, 
and in his Romanes Lecture on Evolution and Ethics summed 
•up that life-long preoccupation in a justly celebrated but 
now out-moded exhortation : "Let us understand, once and 
for all, that the efliical progress of society consists not in 
imitating the cosmic process, still less in running away from 
it, but in combating it." 

The problems of human destiny concern us to-day as 
acutely as they concerned T. H. Huxley. Indeed, I could 
have defined my subject as the relation between science and 
man's beliefs concerning his place in the cosmic process* 

The problems*are as basic as ever: but we look at them 
from a somewhat different position. The main difference is 
that whereas T. H. Huxley never quite rid himself of the 
dualistic premiss of his age, we are perforce monists, in 
the sense of believers in the oneness of things, the unitary 
nature of reality; we see ourselves, together with our science 

1 The material of this essay was compiled in preparation for the Huxley 
Memorial Lecture at Birmingham University in 1953, and formed the basis 
for the third of the series of Dyason Lectures delivered in Australia later in 
the same year. 



and our beliefs, as an integral part of the cosmic process, 
instead of somehow outside it. And from this new angle of 
approach we obtain 'a new view of th'e cosmic landscape, a 
new picture of our place in it. 

Man is always concerned' about his destiny — that is to 
say, his position and role in the universe, and how he is to 
maintain that position and fulfil that role. All societies of 
men develop some sort of organs for coping with this prob- 
lem—organs for orientating their ideas and emotions and 
for constructing attitudes of mind and patterps of belief 
and behaviour in relation to their conception of their destiny. 
All these social organs concerned with destiny can, I think, 
properly be included under the head of religions. Even if 
scyne of them are exceedingly primitive and consist of little 
but magic rituals, while others are highly developed and 
claim to be entirely rational, they are all, from m Haitian 
voodoo to Roman Catholicism, from neolithic fertility 
religions to Stalinist Communism, concerned with this same 
general function* In the same sort of way> the tube-feet of a 
starfish, the legs of a horse, the pseudopods of an amoeba, 
and the wings of a bird, though profoundly different from • 
each other, are all animal organs concerned with the same 
general function of locomotion. ' 

Homo sapiens — man, for short — is a unique organism, 
whose maintenance and transformations depend primarily 
on psycho-social mechanisms, in which mental activities play 
a dominant role; while those of all other organisms depend 
primarily on the biological mechanisms of heredity, muta- 
tiori, and natural selection. 

Although the terms mind and mental have been bedevilled 
by differences in common usage, I shall emplby them, faute 
de mieuxy in the widest possible sense, to describe all activities 
involving awareness, from cognitive to emotional awareness, 
from purely intellectual to spiritual and aesthetic, from in- 
tensely conscious activities to those that are subconscious or 
even, in Freudian terminology, unconscious. It would be 
convenient to have some new term, uncontaminated by 
earlier modes of thought, to characterize all psycho-social 
mechanisms in which communicable mental activities play 



a predominant role. If so, I suggest the term noetic; and I 
shall sometimes employ it with this connotation. 

Religions are thus noetic organs of evolving man. Their 
special function concerns his position and role in the uni- 
verse, his relations to the rest of jhe cosmos, and in particular 
his attitude to the powers or forces operating in it, including 
those of his own nature : or in the fewest possible words, with 
his attitude towards his destiny. Furthermore, this attitude 
always involves the sense of sacred power in some form or 
other — a. feeling of reverence, or mystery, or wonder, or 
transcendent power or beauty. To perform this function, 
a religion requires some interpretative beliefs, notably about 
the spiritual powers in the universe; some picture of the 
cosmos in which man's destiny is cast; some mobilization of 
the emotional and spiritual forces at work within man him- 
self; some form of ritual, in the widest sense of the term, to 
express and maintain this religious attitude; and some 
relation to the moral and practical problems of existence, 
both individual and social. 

• The beliefs may be mere assumptions Jacking precise 
definition, as in those underlying the magic rituals of many 
primitive peoples; or they may be elaborate systems involv- 
ing precise intellectual formulation, like the creeds of Chris- 
tian theology; or they may be post-hoc rationalizations, quite 
subsidiary to the ritual elements of the religion, as in Chinese 
ancestor-worship. 1 The inner psychological forces may be 
given violent expression as part of a sacred ritual, as in 
orgiastic cults like that of Dionysos or in some aspects of 
Haitian voodoo; they may be sternly disciplined, or even 
repudiated, as in some Protestant sects or in the various 
forms of asceticisrft ; or they may be cultivated and developed 
so as to provicfe new fulfilments, as in the various systems 
of mysticism. The ritual may be magical, or dramatic, 
or symbolic; it may consist in formalistic observances, 
in prayers, in orgiastic releases, in mass celebrations, like 
those of the Holy Year or the rallies and parades of Nazism 
and Communism, in pilgrimages, or in sacrifices and rites 
of propitiation. And the relation to practical existence may 

1 See A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, Structure and Function in Primitive Society, 
Cohen and West, London, 1952, pp. 1 53f. 



be one df escape, as in asceticism or pure Buddhism; or of 
full participation, as in classical Greece or the city-states 
of ancient Mesopotamia; or of rendering unto Caesar the 
things that are Caesar's^ as in usual Christian practice. 

The form of the beliefs about the spiritual forces at work 
in the universe colours and affects the rest of the religious 
system. The three chief hypotheses on which past religious 
belief-systems have in fact been erected are the magic hypo- 
thesis, the animist or spirit hypothesis, and the daimonic 
or god hypothesis. 1 

Both the magic hypothesis and the god hypqthesis appear 
to be based on the well-known psychological tendency to 
projection. Putting the matter rather crudely, man has 
experiences of sacred power. On the magic hypothesis, he 
projects the sacred power into phenomena, into some ex- 
ternal object or event, including rituals and forms of words. 
On the god hypothesis, he projects the sacred pover behind 
phenomena, and clothes it in the garb of a personality. 

The magic hypothesis leads man to ascribe practical 
efficacy and importance to dramatic rituals like rain-making 
ceremonies, to witchcraft with its spells and curses, and to 
omens and auguries. The god hypothesis, with its central 
idea of personal spiritual powers behind phenomena, leads 
naturally and almost universally to the iclea that misfortunes 
like earthquakes and pestilences are divine punishments for 
sin, 2 to the belief that gods need propitiation by sacrifices and 
offerings and glorification by worship, and that they can be 
influenced by petitionary prayers. The combination of magic 
and god hypotheses may produce singular results, such as 
the development of prayer-wheels worked by wind- or 
water-power in Tibet. 

The bases of the spirit hypothesis appear to be more com- 
plex; but its effects on practice are equally obvious. When 

1 Daimonic is a useful term to cover all classes of superhuman spiritual 
beings, whether good or evil or ethically neutral, including both gods and 
devils of various kinds and various degrees of importance, angels, local spirits, 
tutelary deities, etc. See R. Turner, The Great Cultural Traditions, McGraw- 
Hill, London and New York, 1941, I, p. 92, on "the Concept of the 
Daimonic Universe". 

2 See T. D. Kendrick, The Lisbon Earthquake, Methuen, London, 1956. 



sacrecfpower is supposed to reside in the spirits oPthe dead, 
we may find special rituals of burial designed to keep the 
dead from plaguing the living, or the ciilt may develop into 
an elaborate system of ancestor-worship. And of course 
.when religious beliefs are largely concerned with survival in 
a supernatural world, the practical effects may be enormous. 
Vfe need only think of the pyramids, and the economic 
importance of the mortuary priesthood of ancient Egypt; or 
of the role of Indulgences in helping to bring about the 

Many religions utilize all these belief-hypotheses. Thus 
in Roman Catholicism, while the god hypothesis is central 
and basic, the spirit hypothesis plays a not inconsiderable 
part, for instance in assigning an important role to the spirits 
of dead saints; and certainly for most Protestants as well as 
for rationalists, Catholic beliefs about the efficacy of relics 
and pilgrimages and various ritual observances involve the 
magic hypothesis. Furthermore, the three hypotheses often 
combine to exert a joint effect on religious attitude and 
practice. • % 

The belief in spirits, and still more markedly the belief 
in gods, involves another basic hypothesis — the hypothesis 
of dualism. "In general, theistic religions are based on the 
assumption of a dJalism between the material and the non- 
material or spiritual. 1 For brevity's sake I shall use the term 
supernatural ism to include the combination of the god 
hypothesis and the spirit hypothesis which characterizes 
most higher religious systems. 

An almost universal and perhaps inevitable consequence 
of the god hypothesis in its developed forms is the assump- 
tion of absolute truth. A monotheistic religion almost invari- 
ably claims tcf be in possession of the absolute truth about 
human destiny: the fact that rival.religions make similar 
claims is disposed of by affirming that they are "false", while 
only one's own religion is "true". 

Furthermore, theistic religions usually adopt the hypo- 
thesis of 'revelation : they assert that the truth has been 
revealed in a set of god-given commandments, or a holy 

1 For the historical development of dualism between matter and spirit, 
see V. G. Childe, Society and Knowledge, Allen and Utowin, London, 1956. 



book, or divinely inspired ordinances. The beliefs of theistic 
religions thus tend inevitably to be authoritarian, and also to 
be rigid and resistant to change. Whefi religious change does 
occur, as is sometimes inevitable in our changing human 
world, it often involves merely the substitution of one 
authoritarianism for another, as when the Protestant 
reformers set up the authority of the Bible in place of that-of 
the Church or the Pope. 

Hypotheses are valuable and necessary instruments of the 
human mind for its dual task of adding to and organizing 
its knowledge. But they become dangerous wfcen they are 
erected into absolute affirmations or dogmas, and pernicious 
when they claim immunity from constant testing against 

» The magic hypothesis in its straightforward form can no 
longer be seriously entertained, even though elements of it 
continue to colour theistic religious practice, and though it 
survives in many forms among the illiterate, and has given 
birth to new versions of old superstitions (such as astrology 
and numerology) among the half-educated. 

The supernatural hypothesis, taken as involving both the 
god hypothesis and the spirit hypothesis and the various* 
consequences drawn from them, appears to have reached the 
limits of its usefulness as an interpretation of the universe 
and of human destiny, and as a satisfactory basis for religion. 
It is no longer adequate to deal with r the phenomena, as 
revealed by the advance of knowledge and discovery. This is 
the crux or the so-called conflict between science and religion, 
which should more properly be described as a conflict between 
the' progress of established knowledge and a particular type of 
religious hypothesis. 

It would be interesting to discuss the hist6ry of this con- 
flict, and to show how, for instance, the advance of know- 
ledge, both in the natural and the human sciences, has led 
to modifications in the god hypothesis — how the Newtonian 
and the Darwinian revolutions combined to push the Deity 
ever farther into the background, until his only role in cosmic 
affairs appeared as that of initial creator of a self-running 
machine; how, with our increasing knowledge of the orderly 
working of nature, the idea of miraculous intervention has 



grown'progressively less and less tenable, until if has now 
become repugnant and indeed intellectually immoral to a 
growing -body of thoSe trained in the 'scientific tradition; 
how theistically minded astronomers and philosophers have 
been reduced to presenting god in the unsatisfying role of a 
cosmic mathematician, or the nebulous guise of an absolute 
principle. But I have no space for such as excursus and can 
merely state the plain fact that the advance of knowledge is 
making supernaturalism in general," and the god hypothesis 
in particular, untenable for an increasing number of educated 
people. # 

The vital question is this: Can we find any other basic 
hypothesis about the spiritual forces at work in the cosmos 
on which to build our beliefs? Such a hypothesis must square 
with the facts of established knowledge, and must be re- 
ligious in the broad sense, in being relevant to tfie problem 
of humap destiny and to man's experiences of sacredness. 

Marxist Communism has adopted the hypothesis of 
materialism, which denies any real importance or indeed 
validity to spiritual* forces. For Marxism, nyntal or psycho- 
logical activities in general are essentially epiphenomena, 
•always the resultant and never the cause of "objective" 
material events. I am, of course, aware that, through a com- 
plicated process of line-spun dialectic, Marxist philosophers 
manage to rescue a good many psychological phenomena 
from this wholesalefjettisoning and keep them safely aboard 
the Communist ship; and that in practice a great deal of 
attention is paid to activities like art and philosophy and 
science, which to most of us would appear to involve a major 
mental or noetic component. But the underlying hypothesis 
is explicitly materialist; and this fact has all kinds of im- 
portant consequences, tfot least among which will be its 
ultimate consequences for the religious efficacy of Com- 
munism, as a system of beliefs and attitudes concerning 
human destiny. 

Again it would be interesting to pursue the subject; but 
again I haVe no space. I would only say that the materialist 
hypothesis, in denying the intrinsic validity of mental and 
spiritual factors and their importance in the cosmos, is to me 
as erroneous as, though more sophisticated than, the naive 



notions fif the magic hypothesis, which projects spiritual 
force into material events. It is still, perhaps unconsciously, 
dualist, and, through failing to take account of a large body 
of fact, is as untenable r as the supernaturalist hypothesis. 
But it has provided the ba^is for the first important non-> 
theistic religion of modern times, and its existence makes the 
task of finding an adequate alternative even more urgent.* 

I submit that the discoveries of physiology, general 
biology, and psychology not only make possible, but neces- 
sitate, a naturalistic hypothesis, in which there is no»room for 
the supernatural, and the spiritual forces at jvork in the 
cosmos are seen as a part of nature just as much as the 
material forces. What is more, these spiritual forces are one 
particular product of mental activity in the broad sense, and 
ipental activities in general are seen to have increased in 
intensity ami importance during the course of cosmic time. 
Our basic hypothesis is thus not merely naturalistic as 
opposed to supernaturalist, but monistic or unitary as 
opposed to dualistic, and evolutionary as opposed to static. 

Another postulate of modern thought is that truth is not 
revealed once and for all, but has to be progressively dis- 
covered. This is itself a scientific discovery, and one of the? 
first magnitude. It is also an inevitable consequence of our 
basic hypothesis of evolutionary naturalism; and the fact 
that modern science has resulted in the progressive dis- 
covery of more truth is a confirmation <tf that hypothesis. 

It may well be that future discoveries, in parapsychology 
for instance, will alter our views on the nature of the relation 
between material and mental or spiritual events and activi- 
ties; but meanwhile the monistic evolutionary hypothesis 
best meets the known facts, and its implications need to be 
followed out and tested in detail, ill full confidence that they 
will be fruitful. 

In the light of such a view, religions, like sciences or 
philosophies, are creations of man, and gods are products of 
the human mind just as much as scientific "laws of nature". 
The comparison is illuminating. Both gods and scientific 
generalizations must be derived from experience and must 
have some basis in reality. The question is how much of a 
basis: how far do they correspond with reality, how accur- 



ately do* they embody experience? The laws of naturft did not 
exist as such before men began scientific investigation : what 
existed was the welter* of natural events, and the laws of 
nature are constructions of human thought which attempt 
to give comprehensible general formulations of how those 
events operate. Similarly gods Aid not exist as such before 
men built up theistic religious systems: what existed was the 
clash of natural forces, physical and spiritual, including those 
of the human mind, and the gods are attempts to give a 
comprehensible formulation of these forces of destiny. The 
difference — |jut an important one — is that, in the history of 
religion, gods correspond to men's pre-scientific construc- 
tions in the investigation of natural phenomena — products 
of imaginative speculation like the four "Elements", or 
the principle of the Humours, or the idea of spontaneous 

With. evolutionary naturalism as our basic hypothesis, we 
can begin exploring the new religious situation of our 
twentieth century, without spending more time in the un- 
profitable task of pointing out the theoretical or practical 
inadequacies of earlier religious systems. 
• Twentieth-century man, it is clear, needs a new organ for 
dealing with destiny, a new system of religious beliefs and 
attitudes adapted to the new situation in which his societies 
now have to exist, including the new knowledge which they 
have discovered and? amassed. The radically new feature of 
the present situation may perhaps be stated thus: Earlier 
religions and belief-systems were largely adaptations to cope 
with man's ignorance and fears, with the result that they 
came to concern themselves primarily with stability *of 
attitude. But the need to-day is for a belief-system adapted 
to cope with His knowledge and his creative possibilities; 
and this implies the capacity to meet^nd to inspire change. 
In other words, the primary function of earlier systems was 
of necessity to maintain social and spiritual morale in face of 
the unknown : and this they accomplished with a consider- 
able measure of success. But the primary function of any 
system to-day must be to utilize all available knowledge in 
giving guidance and encouragement for the continuing 
adventure of human development. 



I am here treating of religious systems as social organs 
whose function it is to adjust man to his destiny. No previous 
systems could perform this function with full adequacy, for 
the simple reason that no previous age had sufficient know- 
ledge to construct an adequate picture of the drama of 
destiny or of its protagonist, man. The present epoch is the 
first in which such a picture could begin to take shape. This 
is due to the fact that scientific investigation has now for the 
first time begun to cover the entire range of phenomena 
involved in human destiny. Beginning with th§ physical 
phenomena and proceeding to the biological, it has now 
invaded the social, psychological, and historical fields, and 
is at last being forced to deal with the phenomena of values. 
Immense tracts of ignorance are still to be explored and 
^wait annexation to the growing empire of knowledge; but 
we can already affirm that the cosmos is unitary, that it is a 
process of transformation in time, and that values apd other 
products of mental and spiritual activity play an important 
operative role in that sector of the process with which we are 
involved. c 

More specifically, the present is the first period in the 
long history of the earth in which the evolutionary process, 
through the instrumentality of man, has taken the first step 
towards self-consciousness. In becoming aware of his own 
destiny, man has become aware of that of the entire evolu- 
tionary process on this planet: the two fire interlocked. This 
is at once an inspiring and a sobering conception. 

The present age also differs from all earlier ages in the 
increased importance of science and its universal extension. 
There should no longer be any talk of conflict between 
science and religion. Between scientific knowledge and cer- 
tain religious systems, yes: but between science as an in- 
creasing knowledge of nature and religion as a social organ 
concerned with destiny, no. On the contrary, religion must 
now ally itself wholeheartedly with science. Science in the 
broad sense is indispensable as the chief instrument for 
increasing our store of organized knowledge and under- 
standing. Through evolutionary biology it has already in- 
dicated the nature of human destiny. Scientific study is 
needed to give c religion a fuller understanding of destiny, 



and to help in devising better methods for its* detailed 
realization. Meanwhile, science must not allow any ancient 
prejudices against certain aspects of previously established 
religions to hold it back from giving its aid when called 
upon. f 

Industry and agriculture, after a good deal of resistance 
on* the part of so-called practical men, have already dis- 
covered the indispensability of science, both pure and 
applied. It now remains for religion, togther with other 
social activities, to make the same discovery. For without 
the fullest avd from science we will assuredly not be able tc 
bring into being a religion adequate to our needs, any more 
than we could have brought into being an aeroplane capable 
of flying or antibiotics capable of killing disease-germs. 

Once it is realized that religions are the product of man.'< 
creative mind, working on the data provided fcy persona 
and coHactive experience, the need for enlisting science ir 
the religious task becomes apparent. In any event, the march 
of knowledge and events has made it imperative to reach s 
new formulation of human destiny and a uew attitude to- 
wards it. This is a task for the human species as a whole, tc 
•which all can bring their contribution. The co-operation oi 
the religiously minded and the scientifically trained is 
essential for its adequate performance. 

The contribution which science can make is two-fold. Il 
can contribute an erfbrmous body of hard-won, tested, organ- 
ized knowledge; and also a spirit of disinterested devotion 
to truth, and a willingness to apply this spirit to any problem, 
irrespective of prejudices or possible consequences. An 
immense co-operative effort of creative discussion is needed. 
In what follows # I submit the thesis which I am calling 
evolutionary humanism to that discussion, fully conscious 
that, though based on the accumulated results of unnum- 
bered others, it is only the personal contribution of one 

In the first place, evolutionary biology has given us a new 
view, impossible of attainment in any earlier age, of our 
human destiny. Our destiny is to be the agent of the evolu- 
tionary process on this planet, the instrument for realizing 
new possibilities for its future. 

k 289 


The picture of the universe provided by modern science 
is of a single process of self-transformation, during which 
new possibilities ctfn be realized. Thfere has been creation 
of new actualities during cosmic time: it has been progres- 
sive, and it has been a self-creation. 

The entire cosmos, in all its appalling vastness, consists of 
the same world-stuff. Following William James, I use this 
awkward term deliberately in place of matter^ because 
"matter" is commonly* opposed to "mind", whereas it is 
now apparent that the world-stuff is not restricted to material 
properties. 1 When organized in certain ways-r— as, for in- 
stance, in the form of human bodies and brains — it is capable 
of mental as well as material activities. Furthermore, the 
study of animals shows that there is no sharp line to be drawn 
between human and animal behaviour, except in the essential 
human capacity for the cumulative transmission of experi- 
ence, knowledge, concepts and ideas; and it is now rlear that 
minds, in the sense of all activities with an obvious mental 
component, have evolved just as much as have material 
bodies; during pvolutionary time, mental activities of every 
kind, from awareness and knowledge to emotion, memory 
and will, have become increasingly intense and efficient, and 
mental organization has reached ever higher levels. Through 
sense-organs and brains, the mind-like potentialities of the 
world-stuff have been progressively intensified and actual- 
ized, in the same sort of way as its electrical properties have 
been intensified in the electric organs of the torpedo-fish or 
through human agency, in constructions like dynamos. 

Since natural selection is the sole or main method of 
bidiogical evolution, and since it can only operate to produce 
results of biological utility, it is clear thav the mental pro- 
perties of organisms cannot be mere useless by-products, 
but must be of value to their possessors. Furthermore, they 
can and do play an operative role in the evolutionary pro- 
cess: thus the awareness of colour and pattern found in some 
higher animals has led to the further evolution of colour- 

i Physics has also revealed the inseparability and interchangeability of 
matter and energy. For simplicity's sake, I am using matter as equivalent to 
matter-and-energy, and material for material-and-energetic or physically 
measurable properties. 



patterns of various sorts, and has assisted in the birth of that 
evolutionary novelty we call beauty. If the self-creation of 
novelty is the basic winder of the universe, this eliciting of 
mind from the potentialities of the world-stuff, and its 
•intensification and increasing importance during evolution, 
is the basic wonder of life. 

•During evolution, the onward-flowing stream of life 
breaks up into a vast number of branches or trends, each 
resulting in improvement of one solt or another. The great 
majority of these become so specialized that life in them finds 
itself in a blind alley, incapable of further improvement or of 
transformation for another way of existence. After this, they 
either remain essentially unchanged for tens or even hun- 
dreds of millions of years, or else wholly die out, becoming 
extinguished in the sands of time. We need only recall the 
extinction of the dinosaurs and other strange reptiles of the 
Mesozoic, or the lack of any essential change shown by such 
successful groups as the birds for over fifteen million years, 
or the ants for over fifty. 

• But through this radiating fan of restricted improvements 
and blind-alley specializations there runs a trend towards 
•major advance; and this current of biological advance has 
continued through the two thousand million years of life's 
existence. It is marked by increase of over-all biological 
efficiency and by improvement in general plan of working. 
During its course, there has been an enormous rise in level 
of complex but harmonious organization — think of a bird or 
a mammal as against a flatworm or a jellyfish; in flexibility 
and the capacity for self-regulation; in physiological effi- 
ciency, as shown in muscular contraction or rate of nervous 
conduction, or nftnifested in sheer strength or speed; in the 
range of awareness, as s£en in the evolution of sense-organs 
— think of an eagle's eyes or an antetepe's ears as against the 
blindness and deafness of a polyp or an amoeba; and in the 
intensity and complexity of mental processes such as know- 
ing and perceiving, feeling and willing, learning and re- 
membering — think of dogs or elephants as against sea- 
anemones or snails. 

In the actual course of the evolutionary process, general 
biological advance has been achieved in a series of steps, 



through fhe emergence of a series of dominant types. Each 
new dominant type possesses some improvement at the 
expense of the previously dominant group from among 
whose less specialized members it has evolved. This pro- 
gressive replacement of dominant types and groups is most 
clearly shown in the later history of vertebrates. The reptiles 
replaced the moist-skinned amphibians as dominant type«of 
land animal, and were in turn replaced by the warm-blooded 
mammals and birds. It is thus perfectly proper to use terms 
like higher and lower to describe different types of organism, 
and progress for certain types of trend. A higher, organism is 
one which has realized more of the inherent possibilities of 
living substance, and biological progress denotes those 
trends which do not restrict the further realization of those 

The next fact of importance is that during evolutionary 
time the avenues of possible progress have become pro- 
gressively restricted, until to-day only one remains open. 
Well before the end of the Cenozoic Era, the limits of 
physiological efficiency seem to have been reached by life. 
The largest size possible to efficient land animals was 
attained by the dinosaurs over sixty million years ago: 
the temperature-regulating mechanism of higher mammls 
reached the profitable limit of accuracy perhaps halfway 
through the Cenozoic, and their locomotor efficiency during 
the Pliocene : it appears to be physically impossible to evolve 
an acuity of vision or a speed of flight greater than that of a 

The only avenue of major advance left open was through 
the Improvement of brain and mind. This was the line taken 
by our own ancestors, and it was this advance which enabled 
man to become the latest dominant type in evolution. His 
rise to dominance is very recent — an affair of less than a 
million years — but its later course has been spectacularly 
rapid, in the extremely short period since the waning of the 
last phase of glaciation; and it has been accompanied by 
marked decline and widespread extinction of the previously 
dominant mammals, as well as by a radical transformation 
of his environment by man. Furthermore, it is clear that man 
is only at the beginning of his period of evolutionary domin- 



ance, ind that vast and still undreamt-of possibilities of 
further advance still lie before him. 

Biology, I repeat, has thus revealed man's place in nature. 
He is the highest form of life produced by the evolutionary 
.process on this planet, the latest dominant type, and the only 
organism capable of further ^najor advance or progress. 
I^is destiny is to realize new possibilities for the whole 
terrestrial sector of the cosmic process, to be the instrument 
of further evolutionary progress on *his planet. 

The gast history of biological evolution gives us a certain 
further guidance. We can justifiably extrapolate some of the 
main trends of progress into the future, and conclude that 
man should aim at a continued increase of those qualities 
which have spelt progress in the biological past — efficiency 
and control of environment, self-regulation and independ- 
ence of outer changes, individuality and level of physio- 
logical, ^organization, wholeness or harmony # of working, 
extent of awareness and knowledge, storage of experience, 
degree of mental organization. In particular, man is likely 
to fulfil his destiny, more successfully if he exploits to the full 
those improvements which have given hifti his position as 
latest dominant type, notably his properties of reason, 
imagination, and conceptual thought, and his unique capaci- 
ties of accumulating, organizing, and applying experience 
through a transmissible culture and set of ideas. These in- 
clude the capacity to construct religions in the broad sense — 
systems of attitude, in which knowledge can be combined 
with ideals and imaginatively fused with our deep spiritual 
emotions to form a stable framework of sentiments and 
beliefs, which in turn will influence behaviour and help to 
determine moral and practical action. 

From this point of view, the religion indicated by our new 
view of our position in the cosmos t must be one centred on 
the idea of fulfilment. Man's most sacred duty, and at the 
same time his most glorious opportunity, is to promote the 
maximum fulfilment of the evolutionary process on this 
earth; artd this includes the fullest realization of his own 
inherent possibilities. 

Let us follow up some of the implications of this general 
conclusion. Evolutionary biology makes it clear that the 

293 ' 


developed human individual is, in a strictly scientific^ sense, 
the highest product of the cosmic process of which we have 
any knowledge; accordingly, we can formulate .the ulti- 
mate aim of the human species as the realization of more 
possibilities by more, and more fully developed, individuals. 
On the other hand, human individuals cannot realize their 
possibilities except as members of social groups, and through 
means which only organized societies can provide. Further- 
more, organization on the human level cannot be reproduced, 
still less improved, except throught he social agency of cul- 
tural transmission. Thus the paramountcy of the individual 
is not absolute: it is limited by the need of maintaining 
and improving social organization. 

Man inhabits a world of ideas which he has created, and of 
social institutions and achievements which those ideas have 
generated. In this psychosocial world he lives and moves 
and has his being. It is in a certain sense an artificial ppviron- 
ment which he makes for himself, but can better be regarded 
as an essential part of the radically new type of evolving 
organization represented by the human, species. There is 
inevitably some conflict between the interests of individuals 
and those of society. But the conflict is in large measure 
transcended in this conception of man as an evolving psycho- 
social organism. This dictates certain conclusions. In the 
longest-term point *of view, our aim must be to develop a 
type of society and culture capable of ever-fresh evolution, 
one which continually opens the way to new and fuller 
realizations; in the medium-term point of view, we must 
secure the reproduction and improvement of psycho-social 
organization, the maintenance of the frameworks of society 
and culture and their transmission and adjustment in time; 
and in the immediate point of view we must aim at maxi- 
mum individual fulfilment. 

What needs stressing, however, is that, from the angle of 
evolutionary humanism, the flowering of the individual is 
seen as having intrinsic value, as being an end in itself. In 
the satisfying exercise of our faculties, in the pure enjoyment 
of our experience, the cosmic process of evolution is bringing 
some of its possibilities to fruition. In individual acts of 
comprehension or love, in the enjoyment of beauty, in the 



inner experiences of peace and assurance, in the satisfactions 
of creative achievement, however humble, we are helping to 
realize human destiny Above all, the individual should aim 
at fulness* and wholeness of development. Every human 
t being is confronted with the task of growing up, of building 
a personality out of the raw lhaterials of his infant self. A 
rich and full personality, in moral and spiritual harmony 
with itself and with its destiny, one whose talents are not 
buried in a napkin, and whose wholeness transcends its con- 
flicts, is^the highest creation of which we have knowledge, 
and in its attainment the individual possibilities of the 
evolutionaiy process are brought to supreme fruition. 

But if the individual has duties towards his own poten- 
tialities, he owes them also to those of others, singly and 
collectively. He has the duty to aid other individuals towards 
fuller development, and to contribute his mite to the main- 
tenance and improvement of the continuing sfceial process, 
and so to the march of evolution as a whole. 

However, to realize the practical importance of such 
.general conclusions, we need to amplify and illuminate them 
by following out their implications. To def this satisfactorily 
in any detail is beyond the possibilities of a single article, or 
indeed of a single individual. But I must at least make some 
attempts at annotation, in the hope that they will serve as a 
stimulus to further exploration by others. 

The basic postulate of evolutionary humanism is that 
mental and spiritual forces — using the term force in a loose 
and general sense — do have operative effect, and are indeed 
of decisive importance in the highly practical business of 
working out human destiny; and that they are not super- 
natural, not oitfside man but within him. Regarded as an 
evolutionary agency, the human species is a psycho-social 
mechanism which must operate by utilizing those forces. 
We have to understand the nature of those forces; where, 
within the psycho-social mechanism, they reside; and where 
their points of application are? 

In the firs* place, there is evil in man as well as good. This 
obvious ethical fact has found theological expression in 
elaborate doctrines like that of original sin, and has been 
projected into hypotheses of supernatural powers of good 



and evil, like God and the Devil, Ormuzd and Ahrimaki. But 
the crude distinction in terms of ethical absolutes like "good" 
and "evil" requires reformulation in the light of psychology 
and history. We then see that the important distinction to 
make is between positive ?nd negative, between constructive 
and destructive or restrictive.cOn the negative side we have 
such forces as hate, envy, despair, fear, destructive rage and 
aggressiveness, restrictive selfishness in all its forms, from 
greed to lust for power, qnd negations of effectiveness such 
as internal disharmony, frustration and unresolved conflict; 
on the positive side we have comprehension, love in the 
broadest sense, including love of beauty and desire for truth, 
the urge to creation and fuller expression, the desire to par- 
ticipate and to feel useful in contributing to some larger 
enterprise or purpose, pure enjoyment and the cultivation of 
intrinsic talents and capacities, and that constructive dis- 
position of fdices that we may call inner harmony. 

These forces operate not only through individual minds, 
but through the social framework. A society may be so 
organized that it generates large amounts of hate or envy or 
despair; or creates vast tracts of ugliness; or imposes sub- 
normal health or inadequate mental development on large 
sections of its population. Or its organization may serve to 
encourage and facilitate constructive enthusiasm, to create 
beauty, and to promote full and healthy individual develop- 
ment. This is so obvious that we are sometimes in danger of 
disregarding it. The fact remains that social organization 
does canalize and concentrate the psychological forces of 
human nature in different ways, so that society can act either 
as an organ of frustration or an organ of fulfilment. Once we 
have grasped that fact, it is up to us to make the attempt to 
improve the design of society. 

Evolutionary humanism has the further implication that 
man is at one and the same time the only agent for realizing 
life's further progress, and also the main obstacle in the path 
of its realization. The hostile outer world was his first 
obvious adversary; but the only opponent ultimately worthy 
of his steel is himself. Man has learnt in large measure to 
understand, control and utilize the forces of external nature : 
he must now learn to understand, control and utilize the 



forces of his own nature. This applies as much tif the blind 
urge to reproduction as to personal greed or desire for 
power, as much to arrbgance and fanaticism, whether nation- 
alist or religious, as to sadism or self-indulgence. 

Let me pursue one examplg in a little more detail. Most 
individual human beings feel themselves saddled with some 
Uirden of guilt or uncleanness or unrighteousness, and 
desire a positive assurance of righteousness or cleansing or 
worth. The exact nature of the senfiment varies from culture 
to culture, and also as between different individuals, but 
it always involves feelings of rightness and wrongness. The 
simplest and most primitive method of coping with this dual 
problem is to increase one's assurance of rightness by pro- 
jecting one's own guilt or wrongness outwards on to events 
or, if possible, on to a human or humanly personified eneipy. 
The process may be wholly unconscious, or merely rational- 
ized; -but this does not render it any less wrong or any less 
dangerous. It prevents the proper development of the indi- 
vidual personality by standing in the way of its wholeness 
•and harmony of organization ; and it obstructs the develop- 
ment both of society and of the species as a whole by magni- 
fying or even creating conflicts and by converting potential 
partners into actual enemies. The text-books of psychology 
illustrate in detai! the workings of this subconscious tend- 
ency to justification by projection. It is clearly an opponent 
of progress, standing in the way both of individual and 
evolutionary fulfilment, and if man is to advance, it needs to 
be understood, faced, and overcome. 

The business of individual development thus poses a 
triple problem. The individual has to come to terms with the 
battery of jx^frerful and often conflicting impulses with 
which he has been equipped willy-nilly by heredity; with the 
forces of his immediate social environment — family, class, 
and nation ; and with what I may call transcendent forces — 
all those which transcend that immediate environment, such 
as the impact of the enduring framework of nature, the 
concept "of the human race as a whole and its welfare, the 
driving force of man's own ideals and aspirations. 

Freud has shown how the infantile and often unconscious 
struggle between love and hate colours, all early develop- 

k * 297 


ment, an<fi can become transformed into a frustrating conflict 
between the sympathetic impulses making for interdependent 
co-operation and the aggressive and power-greedy impulses 
making for hostility and violence. And we all experience 
consciously the shock of the powerful emergence of the sex- 
impulse in adolescence, and the difficulty of harnessing it 
satisfactorily to our vital chariot. 

The immediate social forces will influence the way in 
which the individual's impulses are adjusted: for instance, 
social approval and disapproval largely determine 'he form 
in which conscience develops. As modern anthropological 
research has served to emphasize, the personality-moulding 
forces of the social environment vary from society to society, 
so that the types of individual psychological organization 
fo\ind in South Africa, for instance, will differ from those in 
Bali or in Soviet Russia. 

The transcendent forces have tended to be neglected by 
social scientists, perhaps partly in reaction against their over- 
emphasis by religious thinking, and partly because the very 
phrase social science tends to focus scientific attention on 
actual immediate social organizations. But they are of great 
importance. When Wordsworth wrote of 

High instincts before which our mortal nature 
Doth tremble like a guilty thing surprised 

he may not have provided a scientific formulation, but 
he gave convincing expression to a potent element in 
life. In any case, man's capacity for generalization and 
abstract thought inevitably generates what we call ideals, 
and ideals inevitably affect behaviour and personal develop- 
ment. Furthermore, the basic human sense of dependence 
and need for maximum assurance makes it inevitable that 
man will seek for the enduring elements in or behind the 
disconcerting flux of experience, and will attempt to express 
them in psychologically effective form. Here, as elsewhere, 
the problem is to ensure that the resultant formulations 
shall be not only effective but true, in the sense of corre- 
sponding with reality to the greatest possible extent. From 
our evolutionary humanist point of view, they need to be 
related to the optimum future development of humanity. 



Individual mental and spiritual development tlfus always 
and inevitably involves the adjustment or reconciliation of 
conflicts' of various sorts — between different impulses, be- 
tween the practical or immediate^and the transcendent or 
• enduring. This last conflict <^n to-day be more precisely 
formulated as the conflict between the demands of the exist- 
ing society into which the individual happens to be born, 
and those of the evolving human species as a whole. 

It is easy to say that evolutionary humanism establishes 
the duty of the individual as the optimum realization of his 
possibilities: but this is too general. The fact that he must 
reconcile his individual demands with the needs of society 
and the claims of further evolutionary progress defines the 
problem rather more closely, but still leaves it vague in many 
important details. In the first place, it is clear that there ^re 
different degrees of fruition, different levels tq be attained 
by the% developing personality. In religious phraseology 
(which can readily be translated into the more cumbersome 
terms of scientific psychology), the organization of the soul 
can reach different grades of perfection. It is always possible 
to know and understand more, to feel and to sympathize 
more comprehensively, to achieve a fuller internal harmony. 
The right kind of individual development is thus one which 
leaves the way permanently open for fresh possibilities of 
growth (just as evolutionary progress was only achieved 
through trends ortmprovement which did not bar the way 
to further improvement). 1 The developing self has the possi- 
bility of transcending itself in further development; but in 
practice, different selves stop at different levels. There is thus 
in some sense a hierarchy of development among person- 
alities, more or lfcss corresponding to the hierarchy of higher 
and lower among non-fruman organisms. 

In the second place thr.-e main contrasted ideals of per- 
sonal development are possible. One is specialization: the 
fullest exploitation of some particular capacity, as seen in 
many successful professional men. The second we may call 
all-roundness Toy summation : the cultivation of every kind 
of fulfilment separately. This was, broadly, the ideal of the 
ancient Athenians and of our own Elizabethans. The third 
1 See Charles Morris, The Open Self, Prentice- ^all, New York. 




is difficult to characterise in a word : we may perhaps call it 
comprehensive wholeness : the cultivation of inner harmony 
and peace, the development of a unitary and comprehensive 
pattern of intellectual ai?d spiritual organization. This has 
been the aim of the saints, tbe sages, and the mystics. 

The first is in some degree necessary for personal success 
in life: but pushed to extremes it is as dangerous as biological 
specialization, and stands in the way of the higher levels of 
personal development. T*he second does justice to the variety 
of apparently conflicting fulfilments possible to man. The 
Greeks gave it a religious sanction by divinizing various 
separate human activities or modes of fulfilment. The co- 
existence of Aphrodite and Artemis, of Ares and Athena in 
the Greek Pantheon implies that, to the same individual at 
different times, both physical love and chastity can be sacred, 
that a man can find high fulfilment both in war and in peace- 
ful learning. The organization of personality round a^umber 
of separate and apparently disparate modes of fulfilment 
corresponds roughly on the human plane to the organization 
of behaviour round a number of sepa/atc and mutually 
exclusive instincts in an insect, or impulses and drives in a bird 
or a mammal. It is an important method of utilizing appar- 
ently conflicting or contradictory capacities to achieve a high 
sum-total of fulfilment. But it does so by the avoidance of 
conflicts, not by their reconciliation. It thus, if pushed to its 
logical extreme, stands in the way of achieving the third 
ideal — wholeness, the unity and continuity of the highest 
types of personality — just as the mammals' separate emo- 
tional drives and their series of isolated experiences had to 
be brought together in consciousness before the continuity 
of man's mental life could be realized. 

Some kind of wholeness, some degree of unification, is 
thus indispensable for the higher levels of human fulfilment. 
But here again restriction or over-specialization can have 
unfortunate results. The dangerous over-specialization here 
is emphasis on unity and harmony to the neglect of compre- 
hensiveness, richness and variety. A holy life may be strongly 
unified, but may be sadly restricted in scope. Its pattern may 
be a whole in the sense of having a well-marked unity; but 
it may fall far short of possible wholeness in failing to utilize 



many of the potentialities of humap development Whole- 
ness, however, if properly understood, remains the key to 
the higher reaches of* personal development and fulfilment. 
The personality is a spiritual and mental construction, a 
work of art like other human constructions. Wholeness is to 
this construction what design'Ss to a building, conferring a 
n$w beauty and significance on what would otherwise be a 
mere assemblage of separate parts. This applies whether the 
building be a cottage or a cathedral, whether the personality 
be that of a simple labourer or a great archbishop. 

It is all too obvious that, in the great majority of human 
beings, the great majority of their possibilities, whether 
physical or spiritual, intellectual or aesthetic, remains un- 
realized; while our rather meagre knowledge of mysticism 
and yoga makes it clear that some regions of human poten- 
tiality remain virtually unexplored, or at least unavailable? to 
mankind as a whole. I would venture to prophecy that one of 
the next important steps in human progress will be the 
development of a science of human possibilities — their 
.nature, their limits, and the communicable techniques for 
their fuller realization. • 

Evolutionary humanism, with its naturalism and its twin 
concepts of present fulfilment for the individual and of long- 
term progressive «realizat ion of possibilities for man and the 
planet he inhabits, imposes the need for a transvaluation of 
values. For one thing, it helps to restore our unity with 
nature. It brings back the objects of our adoration and the 
goals of our spiritual longings out of supernatural remote- 
ness and sites them nearer home, in the immediacy of experi- 
ence. As an example, let us consider the beauty and richness 
of nature. Ram Christian mystics like Trahcrne have found 
in it a religious fulfilment, and great poets like Wordsworth, 
in spite of the theological preconceptions of their time, have 
succeeded in expressing its transcendent value. The gospel 
of evolutionary humanism generalizes that value. The enjoy- 
ment of the beauty and strange variety of the natural world 
— an experience engendered jointly by nature and the 
capacities of man's mind — is seen as one of the indispensable 
modes of human fulfilment, not to be neglected without 
peril, involving something essentially religious or sacred 



even thovgh we may pot burden it with any such f heavy 

As a corollary, wc have the collective duty of preserving 
nature — partly for its own sake, but mainly as One of the 
necessary means for man's fulfilment. To exterminate a 
living species, be it lion or lammergeier, to desecrate the 
landscape, to wipe out wild flowers or birds over great traces 
of country, is to diminish the wonder, the interest, and the 
beauty of the universe, h 

The same, mutatis mutandis, is true of the beauty of art and 
architecture. For evolutionary humanism, one of the ultimate 
aims of man appears as the creation of more and fuller 
beauty. Failure to create beauty is a dereliction of duty, and 
the creation of ugliness and meanness is immoral. Judged by 
humanist values, the cities and many other parts of the arti- 
ficial environment that man has created for himself stand in 
large measure condemned. The conservation and proper ex- 
ploitation of natural resources is another of the essentially 
sacred duties imposed by a humanist ideology — because they 
provide the indispensable material basis for }iigher fulfilment. 

We perceive the same need for compromise or adjustment 
between social values as appeared for modes of individual 
fulfilment. We obviously should not preserve all wild life 
everywhere, nor leave all nature untamed 'for the enjoyment 
of nature-lovers. But neither should we allow economic 
exploitation to become universally dominant. Though much 
can rightly be accomplished in the way of reconciling diverse 
interest in a single pattern, it is often impossible to do so 
completely. Then we'must be content with all-roundness by 
summation, and allot areas in which separate interests arc 
paramount — wild life in one area, natural bcuty in another, 
exploitation of resources in a third, and so forth. 

The most important of all the major trends that we find in 
evolution concerns the awareness of organisms, in the broad- 
est possible sense — the organs of experience, by which they 
become aware of happenings in the external environment 
and in themselves, of the world and of their situation in it. 

I cannot embark on a detailed discussion of this improve- 
ment of biological awareness. It must suffice to remind my 
readers that there has been a great increase in the range and 



acuity f of sense-organs; that the awareness of pain has been 
specialized so as to help animals to profit by experience; that 
the higher animals ar£ aware of a wid^ range of emotional 
states, often intense, and closely linked with adaptive in- 
stinctive actions ; that there has been a trend towards the 
integration of different elements of awareness into increas- 
ingly complex patterns, as illustrated by the evolution of 
pattern-vision, or later by the combination of sight and 
touch and muscular sense to provjde perceptual awareness 
of solid and coloured objects in three-dimensional space; 
that the'capacity to organize awareness in transmissible and 
cumulative form is the distinctive property which has per- 
mitted the evolutionary rise of man ; and finally, that man's 
future progress depends very largely on how he continues 
this trend towards the greater extension and better organ- 
ization of awareness. 

Let me recall that the organizations of awareness that play 
a part m our mental life are all our own creations — of course 
in partnership with external fact, but none the less human 
productions. This is true even of our perceptions, as is illus- 
trated by such work as that of Ames and Cantril and by the 
study of how blind people learn to see after recovering their 
power of vision. 1 We do not merely receive direct impres- 
sions or representations of some external reality. We have to 
learn, albeit for the most part quite unconsciously, to organ- 
ize the chaos of coloured patterns, which is all we receive in 
sensation, into coherent perceptions, on the basis of repeated 
experience. Perceptions, in other words, always involve some 
degree of assumption and interpretation. 

An obvious example is the night sky: the "natural" inter- 
pretation of ttys was to perceive the sky as a hemisphere 
studded with equidistant stars; now, with the aid of tele- 
scopes and astronomers' brains, we see it as a fathomless 
depth of space. Even when, as with the night sky, such 
interpretative assumptions are largely dependent on con- 
scious intellectual processes, they modify the way in which 
our raw awareness is perceptually organized. This is still 

1 See J. Z. Young, Doubt and Certainty in Science, Oxford University 
Press, London, 195 1, and my Evolution in Action, Chatto and Windus, 
London, 1953. 



more obviously true of the concepts and verbal s/mbols 
which are the chief vehicles for communication. Human 
societies have to create them: individuals have to learn them: 
each of us has to build up his own organization X>{ signifi- 
cance round verbal symbols like horse or mathematics. And 
so it continues up to the moic complex levels of organiza- 
tion, to the construction of laws of nature to subsume va$t 
quantities of observations and experiments on the welter of 
events, of works of art ta bring together many diverse ideas 
and emotional experiences in a single unified whole, r of gods 
to unify the chaos and the conflicts of spiritual and religious 

Collective awareness is thus the distinctive and most im- 
portant organ of the human species. It can be improved both 
quantitatively, by adding to knowledge and extending the 
range of experience, and qualitatively, by improving its 
organization/Scientific hypotheses and laws are better r prgan- 
izations for coping with our experience of physical pheno- 
mena than are trial-and-error methods, or traditional pre- 
cepts, or pseudo-explanations in terms of metaphysical 
principles. Monotheism provides a better organization for 
certain important aspects of religious experience than does 

But meanwhile the total volume of knowledge available to 
man for the business pf living and evolving has increased to 
a prodigious and spectacular extent, and /his very increase 
in extent demands constant modification of the organiza- 
tions of knowledge, including sometimes the creation of 
quite new types of organization and the scrapping of old 
ones. On this last point, the conclusions dictated by evolu- 
tionary humanism can be briefly summed aip as follows. 
First, man finds one of his ultimate fulfilments in compre- 
hension. Fuller comprehension is one of the basic duties 
(and privileges) of the individual. Secondly, accumulated 
and organized knowledge and experience are necessary 
instruments or organs for human advance. Thus scientific 
research in all fields is essential, and its encouragement is 
one of the most important tasks of a civilized society. 

Then it is clear that the common pools of accumulated and 
organized knowledge on which civilization and human 



advancl depend will perform their psycho-social functions 
more adequately as they are more fully available to and more 
fully utilized by all the members of a community, and as they 
merge morfc fully into a single universal pool for the whole 
human species. Education is exterfding the possibilities of 
participation in knowledge ancf ideas, while natural science 
is already international, and has laid the foundations for a 
comprehensive global system of knowledge. 

Science has also contributed a discovery of the first magni- 
tude — the discovery of the principle of limited but increasing 
certitude as # the best method of extending and organizing 
knowledge. The principle of limited certitude not only in- 
cludes scientific method in the restricted sense — the method 
of dispassionate observation and, where possible, experiment, 
of'framing hypotheses, and of their testing and modification 
in the light of further observation and experiment. But'it 
comprises more than this: it involves a general attitude to 
experience. It implies a fundamental humility, in acknow- 
ledging at the outset our enormous ignorance, the vast 
extent of what we do not know. But it also implies a legiti- 
mate pride and assurance — pride in the extent of the areas 
t already annexed to the domain of knowledge from the wastes 
of ignorance, assurance in the tested validity of the accumu- 
lated facts and in \?he efficacy of the scientific method ; and 
assurance also that the scientific method of accumulating 
and organizing kn9wledge can be profitably extended to the 
entire psycho-social field, to the workings of society and of 
human nature, in such a way that knowledge can become in 
a full sense the basis of wisdom. 

The scientific spirit and the scientific method have proved 
the most effective agents for the comprehension and control 
of physical nature. It remains for man to apply them to the 
comprehension and control of human destiny. For this to 
happen, science must understand that a religion of some kind 
is a necessary organ for coping with the problems of destiny; 
and religion must not only accept and utilize the findings of 
science, but irfust be willing to admit the central principle of 
limited certitude, with its implication of progressive but 
always incomplete achievement of a better religious con- 



There # are a few otfyer points on which I would ^ike to 
touch. The importance of the population problem for human 
destiny is now beginning to loom large. The implications of 
evolutionary humanism here are clear. If the nill develop- 
ment of human individuals and the fulfilment of human 
possibilities is the overriding^aim of our evolution, then any 
over-population which brings malnutrition and misery, or 
which erodes the world's material resources or its resources 
of beauty or intellectual satisfaction, is evil. Among the 
world's major and immediate tasks is the working out of an 
effective and acceptable population policy. In the 'ultimate 
light of humanist values, the deliberate encouragement of 
over-population for military or political ends, as in pre-war 
Italy and Japan, the intellectual dishonesty of the Russian 
Communists in asserting that over-population is an invention 
of* the "Morganist-Weismannist hirelings of American 
monopolists* 1 designed to justify American imperialist ex- 
pansion, and the theological dogmatism, of the 'Roman 
Catholics which denounces birth-control and prevents the 
scientific discussion of population problems even in inter- 
national bodies like the World Health Organization — all 
are seen as immoral and indeed wicked. 

Evolutionary humanism has eugenic implications also. 
These are, for the moment, largely theoretical, but in due 
time will become immensely practical. Within a century we 
should have amassed adequate knowledge of what could be 
done negatively to lighten the burden of inherited deficiency 
of mind or body which presses so cruelly on so many indi- 
vidual human beings and so heavily on evolving humanity 
as a whole, and positively to raise the entire level of innate 
human possibilities and capacities. When thjis has happened, 
the working out of an effective and acceptable eugenic policy 
will be seen as not only fin urgent but an inspiring task, and 
its political or theological obstruction as immoral. 

I must say a word about the arts. Art, science, and religion 
are the three main fields of man's creative activity: all are 
indispensable for his fulfilment and the greater realization 
of his possibilities. In its recent manifestations, Western 

1 Quoted from the New York Herald-Tribune's summary, April 5th, 
1948, of an article by Professor Glushchenko in Pravda. 



civilization has tended to exalt science and its technological 
applications at the expense of the arts. But we can grasp how 
important and indispensable they really -are by imagining a 
world withbut them. Think of a world without music or 
poetry, without its churches and* noble houses, without 
ballets, plays, novels, and films* without pictures and sculp- 
tures : such a world would be intolerable, and life in it 

The practice of various arts — painting and modelling, 
music and acting — can play an important role in the develop- 
ment of individual personality in education ; this is especially 
tr;ue of children in whom intellectual interests are not natur- 
ally strong, but in any case intellectual interests alone will 
tend to a one-sided distortion of development. And through- 
out life the arts can provide individual fulfilments unattain- 
able by any other means. # 

But fpr my present purpose it is the social relations of the 
artist and the social functions of the arts that are more 
relevant, as well as being in more need of clarification. Two 
extreme positions ^re possible. Art may be regarded merely 
as self-expression, and the individual artist may acknowledge 
•no responsibility to the society in which he happens to live, 
but only to himself and to whatever ideas of art he may 
happen to hold. Or it may be regarded merely as an instru- 
ment of the State, and the artist be required to subordinate 
his own ideas entirely to the task of expressing the aims and 
interests of official policy. At the moment, both these extreme 
positions are actually held — the former by many among the 
more rebellious artists in Western countries, 1 the latter by 
the U.S.S.R. with its officially imposed doctrine of Socialist 
Realism. Neither extreme is really tenable by itself, but the 
partial truths ^embodied, in them may be reconciled. In the 
light of evolutionary humanism art appears not as an instru- 
ment of the State, but as an organ of the evolving human 
species : and though the variety of individual genius and the 
duty of experimenting with new possibilities of vision and 
expression miist be admitted, humanism insists that the 
artist, like all other men, has some responsibilities to the 

1 It is curious to note how in some cases, for instance Picasso, extreme 
individualism in practice may be combined with a theoretical Communism. 



community of which hje is a member, as well as to tie gifts 
with which, by no merit of his own, he may have been 

Viewed in this light, the duty of the artist comprises not 
only the duty of cultivating his personal talents and express- 
ing his own individuality afid ideas, but also the duty of 
understanding something of the universe in which he li^ps, 
of the social process of which he is a part, and of his own 
relations with and possible role in it. 

Evolutionary humanism makes it clear that the # essential 
function of the arts is one of bearing witness to the wonder 
and variety of the world and of hunfan experience. In more 
precise but more forbidding phraseology, it is to create 
vehicles for the effective expression and communication 
of complex emotionally charged experiences, whkh are of 
vdlue in the process of human fulfilment. Both science and 
art are instruments for comprehending the world,, $nd for 
communicating that comprehension. They employ different 
methods, and are important in different ways: but the two 
are complementary, and both are indispensable. 

Indeed, in every sphere, evolutionary humanism appears 
as one which both necessitates and makes possible the re-« 
conciliation of extreme positions and the adjustment of con- 
flicting interests. Conflicts may be transcended in the process 
of becoming. This central concept of a process of becoming, 
a self-transformation of humanity with * desirable direction 
and rate, provides a framework of synthesis in which many 
conflicts can be transcended. Continuity and change: doubt 
and certainty; the immediate and the enduring; competition 
and co-operation; the actual and the possible; individualism 
and collectivism, at all levels from family, local group, class 
or nation, to humanity and indeed to life aS a whole, are 
among the many antithetic opposites which can be recon- 
ciled. In the actual process of individual development, the 
stress falls on the reconciliation of conflicting impulses in a 
harmonious personal unity, in that of social development on 
the adjustment of conflicting interests in a pktterft of maxi- 
mum fruitfulness. Above all, our central concept of greater 
fulfilment through the realization of possibilities brings 
ideals and ultimate values into relation with actual imper- 



fections and present efforts, and links them as participants 
in the common task of better achieving human destiny. 

This Brings me back to where I started — the idea of 
religion as an organ of destiny. It is clear, as I said earlier, 
•that twentieth-century man nef ds a new organ for dealing 
with destiny, a new system of beliefs and attitudes adapted 
to*the situation in which he and his societies now have to 
exist and thus an organ for the better orientation of the 
human species as a whole — in oth£r words, a new religion. 

Like all other new religions, and indeed all other new 
movements^ of ideas, it will at the outset be expressed and 
spread by a small minority: but it will in due time tend to 
become universal, not only potentially and in theory, but 
actually and in practice. The properties of man's psycho- 
social nature make this inevitable. Man cannot avoid the 
process of convergence which makes for the iptegration of 
divergent or hostile groups in a single organic world society 
and culture. 1 And an integrated world society cannot operate 
effectively without an integrated common pool of thought 
and body of ideas." Thought and practice interact; but in the 
modern world thought is likely to move the faster. And so 
a universalist system of ideas, if firmly based in reality, can 
be expected to play an important part in effecting the process 
of practical and institutional integration. 

Science, as a system of discovering, organizing, and 
applying mutual knowledge, is already unified and universal 
in principle, though its efficiency as an organ of the human 
species could still be much increased. It remains for man to 
unify and universalize his religion. How that religion will 
take form — what rituals or celebrations it might practise, 
whether it wilP equip itself with any sort of professional 
body or priesthood, whit buildings it will erect, what symbols 
it will adopt — that is something which no one can prophesy. 
Certainly it is not a field on which the natural scientist should 
venture. What the scientist can do is to draw attention to the 
relevant, facts, revealed by scientific discovery, and to their 
implications and those of the scientific method. He can aid 
in the building up of a fuller and more accurate picture of 

1 See Pere Teilhard de Chardin's remarkable book, Le Phcnomlne Humain^ 
Editions du Sevil, Pari9, 1955. 



reality ir> general and of human destiny in particular, secure 
in the knowledge that in so doing he is contributing to 
humanity's advance, and helping to make possible the 
emergence of a more universal and more adequate religion. 

Let me return to whefre I began — the change in our atti- 
tude to the cosmic process since my grandfather's time, the 
reformulation which the march of knowledge in those si*ty 
years has made imperative. To-day, we must say that the 
ethical progress of society, and indeed human progress in all 
its aspects, consists not in combating the cosmic process but 
in wrestling with it (as Jacob wrestled with the, angel), and 
in finding out what we can do to direct it. And this depends 
on our understanding of it, and on our learning how to 
discharge our role of leadership in it. If T. H. Huxley were 
alive to-day, I believe that he would agree with this formula- 
tion (though I am sure that he would have phrased it better), 
and that he would accept the general way of thinking about 
man's destiny which I have called Evolutionary Humanism. 

In exposing my thesis, I have had to range discursively 
into many fields.In concluding, perhaps I may be permitted 
to bring them together in a personal focus. I can, at any rate, 
testify to the fact that the concept of evolutionary humanism ' 
has been of value to myself. It has enabled me to resolve 
many of the dilemmas and conflicts with •Which any enquir- 
ing and aspiring mind is inevitably beset. It has enabled me 
to see this strange universe into which* we are born as a 
proper object both of awe and wondering love and of intel- 
lectual curiosity. More, it has made me realize that both my 
wonder and my curiosity (like those of any other human 
being) can be of significance and value in that universe. It 
has enabled me to relate my experiences 1 of the world's 
delights and satisfactions, and those of its horrors and its 
miseries, to the idea of fulfilment, positive or negative. In the 
concept of increased realization of possibilities, it provides 
a common measuring rod for all kinds of directional pro- 
cesses, from the development of personal ethics to large-scale 
evolution, and gives solid ground for maintaining an affirm- 
ative attitude and faith, as against that insidious enemy, 
Goethe's Geist^ der stets verneint^ the spirit of negation and 
despair. It affirms the positive significance of effort and 



creative activity and enjoyment. In, some ways fiost im- 
portant of all, it has brought back intellectual speculation 
and spiritual aspiration out of the abstract and isolated 
spheres they once seemed to me to inhabit, to a meaningful 
•place in concrete reality; and so Ifas restored my sense of 
unity with nature. * • 

JFrom boyhood, I was deeply impressed by Wordsworth's 
lines in Tintern Abbey: 


and I have felt 
A presence that disturbs mc with the joy 
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime 
Of something far more deeply interfused, 
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, 
And the round ocean and the living air, 
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man. , 

• • 

Yet. I was unable to see how experiences of this kind, 

though I could personally testify to their value, could be 
linked up with the framework of ideas that I was attempting 
to build up on th« basis of my scientific education. In the 
light of evolutionary humanism, however, the connection 
• became clear, though the intellectual formulation given to it 
by Wordsworth was inadequate. The reality behind his 
thought is that nlan's mind is a partner with nature: it 
participates with the external world in the process of gener- 
ating awareness arxl creating values. 

The importance of this idea of participating, of co- 
operative partnership in a joint enterprise, had been brought 
home to me in various separate contexts. I had met with it 
as a keystone of our colonial policy in Africa; as a necessary 
basis for the work of Unesco; as the concept inspiring the 
Colombo Plin and the United Nations' programme of 
technical assistance; as the basis for.Bertrand de Jouvenel's 
illuminating definition of politics as action directed towards 
inducing men to co-operate in a common enterprise; indeed, 
evolutionary biology showed me the destiny of man on earth 
as a partnership between man and nature, with man in 
the leading position — a joint enterprise involving the par- 
ticipation of the entire human species for its most fruitful 



It ha* been a deep, satisfaction that my almost fife-long 
interest in evolution has led me to a better understanding of 
the relations between human life and the apparently hostile 
universe in which it exists. Man, both as individual and as 
species, turns out to be profoundly significant in the cosmic 
process. When Hamlet pronounced man "the paragon of 
animals", "the quintessence of dust", he anticipated Darwin 
and all the implications of Darwin's work for our ideas about 
man's origin and destiny. But, he also said, "man delights 
me not, no, nor woman either", thereby voicing so/ne of the 
disillusion and horror which we all sometimes reel at human 
frustration, stupidity, and cruelty.' That disillusion a*d 
horror has been sharpened for us moderns by the events of 
the last two decades — though, if we had been willing to cast 
our eyes backward into history, we should hf*ve found 
abundance of stupidities and cruelties to rival and exceed 
those of our own times. However, in the light of our newer 
knowledge of psychology and history, the moral of those 
failures and horrors is not that human nature is unchange- 
able or incurably evil. Human nature always contains the 
possibilities of evil, waste, and frustration; but it also con- 
tains those of good, of achievement, and of fruition. The 1 
lesson of evolution is that we must think in the limited but 
positive terms of fulfilment — the degree^to which we, indi- 
vidually and collectively, manage to realize our inherent 
possibilities. * 

Finally, the concept of evolutionary humanism has helped 
me to see how, in principle at least, science and religion can 
be reconciled. It has shown me outlets for ideas and senti- 
ments which can legitimately be called religious, but which 
otherwise would have remained frustrated or untapped. 
And it has indicated how vital a eontributidn science can 
make to religious progress. 

My grandfather, in the same famous essay in which he 
defined agnosticism, stated as self-evident that "every man 
should be able to give a reason for the faith that is in him". 
My faith is in human possibilities : I hope that I have here 
succeeded in making clear some of my reasons for that faith. 



Adaptation, H2, 137 fF. 
Africa, 115, 143, 147-8, 275, 

31 1 5 destruction of wild life, 

186; love and sex, 228 
agnosticism, 279 
Ahlmann, Professor, 165, 167 
analysis, differential, 75 
anatomy, comparative, 41 
ancestor-worship, 114, 281 • 
animals: love and sex, 217-20 
anthropology, 61-3, 65, 70, 77, 

91-2; T. # H. Huxley and, 


ants, evolutionary stabilization, 
32, 47* 291; mimicry, 143, 

Arabic thought, 33 

Architecture, 302 

^ristotle, 26 

art, 59, 71, 73, 302, 306-8 

arthropods, 32, 45 

artifacts, 82 

artists, 59, 73, 307 

astronomy, 44, 1 00 

Ate, 19-20 

atomic fission, 23 

atomic warfare, 188, 212 

atoms, 24 # 

Australia: population problems, 

194-6; white policy, 196 
awareness, 302-4 

Bali, 1 90- 1 

belief, 99,* 107, no; and 
scientific knowledge, 234-44; 
and necessity, 237; and the 
future, 241-4 


belief-hypotheses, 282-4 
belief •systems, 110-20, 245-6; 
* new, 1 10, 126^259 
Bidney, 65-6 

biology, 35, 43-4, 66n, 286, 
2910-4; methods of approach, 
74-7; and Iceland, 155-65 

birds: evolution of, 45, 90, 291 ; 
cryptic colouration and mimi- 
cry, 146-50; in Iceland, 155- 
165; emotional life, 219-20 

birth-control, 179-80, 185, 
207-9 • 

brain, human, 28, 168, 224, 292 

Bridges, Robert, 231-2 

Britain: eighteenth-century, 53, 
254-5 ; expectation of life, 1 75 ; 
population problems, 177-8; 
energy consumption, 198-9 

British Association, 94 

Bury, J. B., 20 

butterflies: cryptic resemblance 
and mimicry, 143-4, 150; in 
Iceland, 155, 158 

Calcutta, 206 
Camclina, 148-9 
Carr-Saunders, The Population 

Problem, 179 
Catullus, 225 
celebrations, 1 1 3-4, 309 
Cenozoic, 292 
Chinese civilization, 32 
Christian tradition, 34, 37; 

missionaries, 190-1 
Christianity, 54-5, 115, 117, 

119, 234, 254-6, 281-4 



chromosomes, 128-33, 136 
classification, biological, 74-5, 

climate, world changes in, 1 65-7 
Coelenterates, 46-7 
Colombo Plan„3ii 
Common Man, 15 
communication, 81 
community, social, 122-4,^76-7 
complexity, increase of during 

evolution, 24 
Continental drift, 160-1 
Cook, Robert C, Human 

Fertility, 200 
Corystes, 139-40 
cfabs, 137, 139-41 
Cretaceous period, 27, 31 
Crete, 1 1 
Cuba, 33 

cuckoos, 1575 mimicry, 148-9 
cultural evolution, 48, 68-72, 

cultural pattern-systems, 78 
cultural specialization, 33-4 
cultural traditions, 35* 
cultures, 33, 50, 66-72, 186-96, 

213; ancient, 68 
cytoplasm, 64 

Da,nte, 216 

Darwin, Charles, 4 1 , 7 3, 1 30, 3 1 2 
Darwinian thought, 41, 312 
de Chardin, Pere Teilhard, 50, 

81, 3ogn 
de Jouvenel, Bertrand, 31 1 
destiny, human, 11, 19, 103, 

120-2, 262-3, 2 7 8 » 280 
Donne, 215 

Dorippe japonica, 1 37-40 
Drosophila, 131-5 


education, 243 

Egypt, 107, H4-i5» 249, 271 

Einstein, 73, 241 

energy, world consumption of, 

environment, 30-1 
erosion, 186; cultural, 190 
escapism, 117 

ethics, 21, 262, 279, 295-6 
eugenics, 30, 306 
evil, 295-6 

evolution, 13-14, 21-4, 36, 4.3, 
47, 57, 61-2, 100-3, 2 4&-7> 

evolution, biological, 22, 43-4, 
47-8, 83-4, 1 01, 109, 250, 

2 53; *9 l -3° l 
evolution, inorganic, 22, 43-4, 


evolution, psychosocial, 22-3, 43- 

44, 47-8, 62, 84, 247 
evolutionary humanism, 102-3, 

exploration* 12 
eye-spots, 152 


facts, increase in, 12, 95-6 
faith, 99, 104, 234-6, 312 
Fascism, 20, 38, 234 
Fiji, 192-4 

fish, evolution of, 45, 90; cryptic 

resemblance in, 144 
Fisher, James, 155, 164 
Fleming, and antibiotics, 1 28 
flowcr-mantises, 150-1 
flowers: flora of Iceland, 1605 

cryptic resemblance to, 146, 


food-production, 182, 186, 188- 
196, 199-212 

I N I 

freedom,* 28, 266; meanings, 

233; and beliefs, 234-8 
Freud, 19, J25, 241, 297.8 
fulfilment, 6tf, 299; and popula- 
tion, 187-8, 212, 306 

Galileo, 128 
Gakon, 130 
Gandhi, 208-9, 224 
gene-complexes, 64-5, 76 
genes, 64-5, 76, 13 1-6 
generics, 55*63-4, 74> 128-36, 


genius, 71 

germ-plasm, 50, 64-7 
God, 58, 2?8, 269-74, 296 
Gocthc*26, 310 
Golden 'Age, 19 

Greek civilization, 19, 113, 115, 

282, 300 
Gudmunsson, Dr F.,*i64-6 

•hate, 229-31 
hawks, 47 
Hegel, 251, 261 
Hcikc crabs, 137-8 
heredity, 128-36 
history, 12, 56, 109, 252 
Hobbes, 16 

Homo Sapiens^ 22, 33, 67, 280 

Homotherma, 91 

Hornet Clearwing, 145 

Humanism, evolutionary, .102- 
i<>3> 279-312 

Huxley, Aldous, 20-1, 36-7 

Huxley Memorial Lecture, 1950, 
93-127; 1953, 279-312 

Huxley, Tt H., 46, 94, 310; and 
anthropology, 93-4; and Johns 
Hopkins University, 269; and 
human destiny, 279-80 



Ice Age, 31; Little, ibp 
Iceland, 156, 160; bird species, 

155-65 plants, 16*0, 167; 

climate amelioration, 165-7; 

fish, 166-7 
itieology, 99, no, 1 16-17; new, 


India, 37, 107, 198-9; popula- 
tioi and production, 203-10 

individual, 49, 73, 266, 297- 
299; development, 38-9, 299; 
primacy of, 122-3; fulfilment, 
60, 187; and the State, 257 

Indonesia, 188-91 

insects, 32, 45, 14 1-2, 247, 
252; mimicry, 142, 144; 
emotional life, 2ii 

institutions, social, 82, 294 

Italy, 38, 306 

Jamaica, 181 # 

James, William, 290 

Japan, 12, 38; Heike crabs, 
137-8; population and pro- 
duction, 200-3, 3°6 

Java, population and production, 

Jeans, Sir James, 240, 258 

Jesus, 25, 37 

Jews, 234, 236, 242 

Karma, 19 

Kinsey, Dr, 223, 232 

knowledge, 42, 84-6, 246, 248- 
249, 272, 290, 304-55 and 
man's role in nature, 56; 
organization of, 255 

knowledge, new, 1 2, 239-44 

Kroeber, 71 

Kumbh Mela, 204-5 


J N 

Lamarck r 66, 129 

Langer, Susanne, 1 1 3 

language and grammar, 78 

lantern-bugs, 153 

leaf- fish, 141 9 

liberalism, nineteenth - century' 


Lloyd Barrage, 182 
London, growth of, 95 r 
love, 296; meanings, 213-14; and 
sex, 216, 223-4; in animals, 
217-20; in birds, 219-20; in 
human beings, 221-32; and 
marriage, 226-7; in primitive 
societies, 228; and hate, 229- 
lungfish, 46 ' 
Lyell, 93 

Lysenlco, 235, 242, 257 

Mai thus, Thomas,' 172, 178-9 
mammals, in evolution, 45, 90 
man, 29, 49, 103-4, 239, 259, 
280, 312; place in nature, 41- 
60; love, 221-32; as micro- 
cosm, 249 
mantis, 150-1 

Marxism, 38, 53, 87, 97, 105, 
2 57> 2 ^5; and science, 235, 
342; and transhumanism, 260- 
261, 266 

matter, 290 

Mead, Margaret, 227 

mechanisms, psychosocial, 9 8 ; 
biological, 105 

Membracidae, 142 

Mendel, 73-4, 256 

Mendelism, 11, 66, 76, 130-4 

mentifacts, 81 

Mesopotamia, 282 



Mesozoic (secondary) ^ra, 35, 

46, 291 
Metazta, 79, 90 
Michurinism, 235 * 
Middle Ages, 34, 53, 73, 227 
mimicry: visual, 137-54; by 

sound, 149-50; of faces, y.0, 


mind, 108-10, 241, 247, 280, 

Mivart, St John, 50 
modifications, not heritable, 129 
molecules, 24, 246 
Monocirrhus (leaf- fish), 14 1-2 
Morgan, T. H M 131, 
Morris, Charles, 243, 29911 
moths, cryptic lesemblaiice, 145 
Muller, H. J., 137 
Muller, Max, 94, 1 32 
mutation, 64 
myth, 18-19 

Myvatn, Lake, 158-9, 165, 167. 
nations, 39* 

nature, 41, 43, 154, 286; man's 
place 111^41-60, 293; unity of, 


nature, human, 14, 312 
Nazism, 12, 20, 38, 113, 234- 

236; and science, 242 
Necdham, Dr. J., 37 
Newton, 73, 128, 241 
Niebuhr, Reinhold, 1 8 
night sky, 303 

nightjar, South American, 146- 

noesis, 50 •» 

noetic integrators, 55-60; micro- 
cosms, 52, 86; systems, 51-3, 
81, 86-7, 281; unity, 52 



noocosm, 52 
noogenetics, 5 1 
noosystem, 52 * 
novelty, in evolution, 246, 291 
nucleoproteins, 136 

orcWds, 151 

Origin of Species, 41, 128 

Painted Lady butterfly, 1 55, 158 
Paleolithic, Upper, 43 
Ptfey, Archdeacon, 15 1-2 % 
Parazoa, 90 
Pascal, 241, 247 
Pasteur, 123 
Pearson, # Karl, 130 
P.E.P., B*port on World Popula- 
tion and Resources, 200, 211 
phenotype, 63 

physics, evolution of, 42, 290 

Picasso, 30711 
Tplasmagenes, 135 

Pliocene period, 47 

polygenes, 135 1 

population, 168-212, 306; in- 
creases, 170-4, 1821 birth and 
death rates, 175-6; expecta- 
tion of life, 175; family 
limitation, 176-9, 181; cycles, 
1 85 ; birth-control, 1 79-80, 
185; I ndonesm, 188-91; 
Thailand, 19I-2; Fiji, 192-4; 
Australia, 194-6; India, 203- 

population policy, need of, 183- 
186, 210-12, 306 

progress: myth *of, 20-1; fact 
of, 25-9; human, 34-40; bio- 
logical, 21, 25, 102, 253, 291- 


psychiatry, 264 

psychological function of cultural 

phenomena, 105-6 

psychology, 62, 107, 286 

Puertb Rico, 18 in 
• 9 


racialism, 18 

Radcliffe-Brown, A. R., 28 m 
Radl, 69-70 

reality, 101, 251, 266-7 
relativity, 42-3, 268 
religion, 99, 1 17-19, 234-6, 242, 
269-74, 281-6, 289, 309, 312 
reproduction, 63 
reptiles, 45, 89, 291 
resemblance, cryptic, 1 37 fF. ' 
resources, world, 1 68 fF. 
ritual, 1 1 3-1 5, 270, 281 
Roman Catholic Church, 103, 

2 3+> 2 37> , 28 35 and Wrth- 
control, 179, 207 
Roman civilization, 119, 175, 

Royal Society, 255 

Schopenhauer, 29 

science, 12, 15-16, 54, 71, 

106-7, I20 > l %%> 2 54"5» 2 74" 
276, 288-90, 305, 309 

scientific method, 240-1, 305. 

Secondary (Mesozoic) Era, 35, 
46, 291 

selection, natural, 22, 30, 77; 

and mimicry, 1 38-54 
self-reproduction, 22, 49 
shrike, 146 

Simpson, G. G., 77, 89-90, 105 
snakes, 149-50 
societies, human, 80, 296-8 
soma, 50, 65-7 



specialization, 31, 95, 258 

speech, 49, 78 

Spemann, 54 

Spencer, Herbert, 94 

spiders, 1375 mimicry in/ 143, 

145-6, 151 r 
Spinoza, 28 
Spitsbergen, 156 
Sumatra, 189-90 ' 
supernatural, 118-20, 282-6 
symbols, 55 

taxonomy, 89-90 
temperature, 267-8 
terminology, 97, 267-8 
Thailand, ig # i-2 
theology, 21, 281-4 
thinking, new methods needed, 

thought, 49, 253-4; new 
systems of, 256, 259-62, 264 

Toynbee, A. J., 92 

transhumanism, 13-17, 260-2, 
279, 294-301, 310-12 

Unesco, 56, 168, 191, 311 
U.N. Conference on World 

Population, 168; on World 

Resources, 168-9 
U.N. Technical Assistance, 59, 

U.S.A.: 238, 2415 individualism, 

37; expectation of life, 175; 

population problems, 174-6; 

energy consumption, 198-9; 

love and sex, 228; world 

leadership, 277-8 

universe, 251-2 

Upper Paleolithic, 43 

U.S.SrR.: 38, 53, '113, 213; 
biology in, 87"; population, 
179, 306; freedom of belief 
in, 234-5 

values, 103, 188 

variation: 22, 63-5; transmissible 

and non-transmissible, 64-5 
vertebrates, land, 46 


weeds of flax, evolution of, 
Weismann, 64-5, 129-30 
Wenner-Gren Foundation, 61 
Western World: 34, 53-4, 115, 

245; unity, lack of, 96-7; 

population increase,' 174-6; 

love, 226-8; and European 

thought, 251 
Whig artistocracy, 53 
Whitman, Walt, 222, 242, 247,, 


wholeness, 9 psychological, 59, 

265, 300-1 
Whyte, L. L., 250 
will, free, 28-9 

Wordsworth, 222, 226, 301, 31 1 
world development plan, 199 
World Health Organization, 168, 

183. 20 7> 3° 6 
world-stuff, 169,, 290 

worms, evolution of, 45 

wryneck, 149-50 

Young, J. Z., 70, 3©3n 

zoology, 69-70 


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by T mil A Constabli I id 
Printers to the University of } dinburgh